This special issue of the WatchDog focuses on the transparency of safety information related to dams, levees, impoundments, and related water-control structures. For environmental journalists, these subjects offer a goldmine of great story possibilities. These are stories that have not been covered much in the past decade, and stories that fit well at the local, state, or regional level.
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Special Report: Part Three
By KATE SHEPPARD
Americans — and humans in general — have long flocked to the coasts. Thirty-nine percent of the U.S. population, or about 123 million of us, live in coastal counties. But many in coastal areas are finding it increasingly less hospitable due to sea-level rise and extreme weather events linked to climate change. As communities figure out how to adapt to these changes, it is often environmental journalists who are being asked to cover these complex stories.
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On Saturday, October 5: At 9:00 a.m. SEJ FOI Task Force Chair Tim Wheeler of the Baltimore Sun will moderate a session on overcoming obstacles put up by agency press offices to reporters who want to interview government officials. At 10:45 a.m. WatchDog Editor Joe Davis will present a hands-on session with tips for sleuthing dam and levee stories using federal databases like the National Inventory of Dams and the National Levee Database.
See the list of US nuclear facilities that could be endangered by dam failure, thanks to a document that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission does not want to release, made public by the Huffington Post. Watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsiblity filed suit August 15, 2013, under the FOIA to force the NRC to disclose more of what it knows.
One reason proof of harm is hard to find is that drillers pay people to keep quiet. Now the unsealing of a once-confidential settlement in Pennsylvania gives a clear view of how the silencing works. The 17-page, two-year-old settlement agreement includes a $750,000 payment to a family critical of fracking, saying they became sick, as well as a gag order that applies to their 7- and 10-year-old children for the rest of their lives.
Journalists who worried about a cover-up during the April 2010 blowout of BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico got some vindication this month when Halliburton admitted to destroying evidence. The company agreed to pay $200,000 in fines and donate $55 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
In this issue: ESA at 40 — 40 things journalists should know; tangled tale of the endangered wolf; SEJ resources for busy enviro journalists; how one freelancer supports a travel addiction; five book reviews; IJNR institute inspires journalists; watershed tipsheet; and SEJ's 2012 individuals donor list.SEJ Publication Types:
Topics of the latest CRS reports shared by the Federation of American Scientist's Project on Government Secrecy include GMO wheat, earthquake risk and highway infrastructure, carbon capture and sequestration, the regional greenhouse gas initiative, regulation of fertilizers, and more.Topics on the Beat:
The fracking industry loves to argue there's no proof its gas-extraction methods cause pollution. But it works hard in Pennsylvania to keep secret any evidence that might prove the question — one way or the other. Existence of its database was reported by Marie Cusick of WITF in Harrisburg, via NPR's StateImpact Pennsylvania.Region: