A new OMB Watch report calls full advance disclosure of fracking fluid ingredients "the necessary first step" to protecting people's drinking water and concluded "no state has yet established all of the elements of a chemical disclosure policy strong enough to ensure the quality of the water and the health of communities near gas wells."
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One starting point to covering agriculture — and the health implications of land and water use — is to follow the money using Environmental Working Group's major database tool. Any reporter covering the ag-environment link should know about it.Topics on the Beat:
InvestigateWest's Robert McClure gets into the (clean water) act by asking, "Four decades later, is our water cleaner?" You'll find shocking answers and a flood of ways to localize this issue.SEJ Publication Types:
A new report from the IEA includes guidelines emphasizing transparency and the monitoring of environmental and social impacts. That includes full disclosure of fracking fluid ingredients and testing of baseline water and air conditions before drilling begins.
The federal Data.gov, while not perfect, has grown over three years especially strong in datasets from federal agencies that deal with the environment, energy, natural resources, health, and science. Many of them are downloadable, so that you can crunch them on your own computer. Several are map layers or geo-tagged in some way. See a few randomly chosen examples here.Topics on the Beat:
The Ohio legislature cleared a fracking bill May 24, 2012 that increases inspections of wells and requires drillers to hold liability insurance. But Reuters reports: "Many Democrats said the bill paves the way for the industry to hide information about toxic chemicals that could contaminate groundwater."Topics on the Beat:Region:
After backroom lobbying by gas and oil industry groups, the Obama White House watered down the promised fracking-fluid disclosure requirement promised earlier this year — imposing it only after completion of the fracking operation, when the information may have little effect (such as public pressure on BLM to deny a drilling permit).
After complaints from BP, the US government agreed to give the company evidence of the basis for its calculation of the flow rate from the stricken Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico. The government will hand over to BP some 100 documents about the size of the 2010 oil spill that have not yet been made public.Topics on the Beat:
If you have a fracking story in your beat, getting information about what's in the controversial fracking fluids may be like pulling teeth. But there are a few resources that can help, such as the "FracFocus" chemical disclosure registry.Topics on the Beat:
One sign of problems came when Interior's Inspector General office launched what seemed to be a ham-handed investigation, later dropped, into activities of the scientist who sounded the alarm on polar bears losing habitat to global warming. Now Interior has fired one of its scientific integrity officers — who is defending himself by saying he was just doing his job.Topics on the Beat: