May 8, 2013–SEJ members have complained a lot over many years about difficulties getting information and interviews from US EPA. SEJ officers and FOI watchdogs have talked to EPA about the problems for a long time, too. If a regular call to a line press officer brings poor results, try explaining your problem to the boss — here are their numbers!
May 8, 2013–The unanimous decision turned down a FOIA request by a California resident for records in Virginia. According to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, only a "handful" of states have similar residents-only restrictions to their FOI laws. But the doctrinal impact of the decision is likely to be large, since the court held, among other things, that the First Amendment conveys no right of access to government information.
April 24, 2013–Seattle-based InvestigateWest published a feature package last summer documenting illegal parkland conversions in Michigan, New York City, and Oklahoma. They could not cover all the other states — that was left for you to do, with the assistance of their database of some 40,000 federal grants under the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
April 24, 2013–Government rulemaking takes place with everything on the record in a public docket, right? Well ... actually not. EnergyWire reporter Mike Soraghan revealed in an April 12, 2013 story that presidential aide Heather Zichal met more than 20 times with industry groups lobbying on the proposed rule for fracking on federal lands.
April 10, 2013–The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, saying that agencies had 20 days to respond to FOIA requests, stating "what documents would or wouldn’t be handed over and why," according to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
April 10, 2013–The March 29, 2013, spill from ExxonMobil's Pegasus Pipeline near Mayflower, Arkansas is a big deal for several reasons. But the most important thing about the Mayflower spill may be that ExxonMobil and the federal agencies involved seem to be trying to keep news media from getting close enough to see what is going on. Read SEJ's letter protesting the media treatment, and EPA's response.
April 10, 2013–It may come as little surprise that an unknown number of Americans could die as a result of White House weakening of food safety rules mandated by Congress. The Office of Management and Budget has been secretly weakening environmental health and safety at industry request for years. The surprise is that we found out.
April 10, 2013–President Obama's nominee for EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy, faces a confirmation hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee Thursday, April 11, 2013. SEJ has urged committee members to ask McCarthy about her commitment to open government and whether she will fix EPA's "badly broken" news media policies.
March 27, 2013–The Community-Focused Exposure and Risk Screening Tool (C-FERST), available currently to some agencies, communities, and researchers, could be helpful in tracking environmental justice stories: the impact of specific pollutant exposures on particular geographic and demographic communities.