March 21, 2012–On December 27, 2012, EPA submitted to the Office of Management and Budget its proposal to alter the interpretation of the Toxic Substances Control Act to require disclosure of the identities of the chemicals subject to health-effects studies before they are used in manufactured products. On January 20, 2012, a secret meeting took place between OMB officials and chemical industry lobbyists. We don't know what they talked about, but we do know that the meeting took place and who attended it.
March 21, 2012–The Mexican Senate on March 13, 2012, approved a constitutional amendment making attacks on journalists a federal crime — which would help journalists bypass possibly corrupt local police officials. The measure must now be approved by a majority of Mexico's state legislatures.
March 7, 2012–Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (pictured) signed the so-called "Ag Gag" bill into law March 2, 2012, making it a crime to obtain access to an agricultural facility "under false pretenses" — without defining "false pretenses." Does this apply to hidden cameras? Animal rights activists have often resorted to hidden cameras — and shared with news media photos and videos of shocking cruelty to animals.
March 7, 2012–Congress still refuses to publish unclassified reports on subjects of general public interest done by the Congressional Research Service, even though they are funded by taxpayer dollars. Here are several, courtesy of the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy.
February 8, 2012–On January 27, 2012, SEJ wrote to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, after unreturned phone calls and ignored emails, in an attempt to get the agency to resume quarterly conference calls to discuss access issues and the run-around SEJ members endure when trying to do their jobs.
January 25, 2012–The e-mail pressuring agency scientists was written by USGS Director Marcia McNutt, and was never meant to be made public. Against strong agency resistance, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility forced disclosure of the e-mail with a Freedom-of-Information-Act lawsuit.
January 25, 2012–Here, courtesy of the Federation of American Scientists, are some recent Congressional Research Service backgrounders that may be useful to environment/energy reporters, on chemical facility security, nuclear power plant design and seismic safety considerations, and proposed Keystone XL pipeline legal issues.
January 12, 2012–It remains to be seen how successful the House will be in timely posting of electronic versions of bills — especially when they are thousand-page appropriations bills being rammed through at the last minute. The WatchDog will be watching to see if bills are published electronically well before subcommittee markups begin.
January 12, 2012–Somewhere near you there is probably an activist who has been doggedly seeking documents from a local, state, or federal agency which has been reluctant to provide them. Their story might well be worth telling. Sunshine Week, March 11-17, 2012, will celebrate "Local Heroes" with a roundup of such stories.
December 14, 2011–One example is Walt Tamosaitis, who works for an Energy Department subcontractor. He told a Senate panel on December 6, 2011, that when he raised technical issues about whether nuclear waste cleanup was being done right at the Hanford Site in Washington, he was taken off the project and exiled to the basement.