November 14, 2012–Whistleblowers are key sources for investigative journalists. The bill, approved by unanimous consent in the House and Senate, was hailed by watchdog groups Government Accountability Project and Project on Government Oversight, who had fought for its passage.
October 31, 2012–Fifteen environmental and public health groups say EPA had not allowed sufficient time for public review, only put relevant information into its docket at the last minute, and emphasized easing a "burden" utilities had lived with for years at the expense of protecting the public.
October 31, 2012–The gas industry won itself an exemption from disclosure requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2005. But now environmentalists have a new angle, claiming EPA has authority to compel disclosure under a different law (the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act) — and urging EPA to use it.
October 31, 2012–Watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility's new guide to state whistleblower laws starts with a map — click on any state to link to its whistleblower law and other related info. Federally, there is currently a bill in play in Congress which would strengthen the notoriously weak federal whistleblower protections.
October 17, 2012–Danielle Ivory reports for Bloomberg: "At least 25 federal agencies are outsourcing parts of the FOIA process. The contractors, sometimes using workers with security clearances, are building FOIA software, corresponding with requesters, redacting documents and recommending what information should be withheld."
October 17, 2012–RCFP's new online guide to appealing federal FOIA decisions, written by smart, experienced media lawyers, "will be particularly useful to independent journalists and those at news organizations who don’t have ready access to legal counsel to help file appeals."
October 3, 2012–Some utilities want to get rid of the requirement — substituting online notification, even for water customers who lack Internet connections. A legislative effort to ease the notification requirement failed in the Senate in summer 2012. Now EPA is starting procedures which might lead to doing the same thing by rulemaking. Deadline for comments is October 11, 2012.
October 3, 2012–While it still has a long way to go to reach its potential, the new "FOIAonline" web portal benefits environmental reporters now. Submit and track FOIA requests online to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and more.
October 3, 2012–Five years after wildlife biologist Charles Monnett's 2006 observations of dead polar bears, believed to have drowned because of disappearing Arctic ice, Interior started an investigation of Monnett's science. The findings — partially published September 28, 2012 — were confused and contained no findings of scientific misconduct.
October 3, 2012–The list, recently published by the Society of Professional Journalists, includes items ranging from the FOIA letter generator from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press to Charles Davis' "The Art of Access" blog.