The suicide earlier this month of open-access activist Aaron Swartz brings again to the fore the ongoing difficulty journalists have accessing published scientific studies that bear on key current and future policy issues. Photo of Swartz, credit Flickr/peretzp.
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Under FOIA, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility requested FDA documents justifying its use of categorical exclusions to avoid assessing the environmental impact of not regulating livestock antibiotics. After FDA failed to provide any, PEER filed a lawsuit in federal district court.
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."
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:
That left journalists and the taxpayers — for now — at least partly in the dark about where tax dollars subsidizing agriculture are really going. But disclosure advocates think they may get another opportunity when the House takes up its own version of the Farm Bill.
OMB sat on the Office of Government Information Services recommendations for over a year, until a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in March 2012 demanded OMB release the recommendations, which finally happened April 24th. However, no recommendations for legislative change were included. Nobody knows what, if any, legislative recommendations OGIS may have originally proposed.
For reporters wanting to pry open the worm-cans of local environmental stories, EPA's new GIS tool lets you map Environmental Impact Statements project information against a rich backdrop: layer after layer of geographic, demographic, environmental, and economic context. And, it can be used in conjunction with EJView, EPA's environmental justice online mapping tool.
An initiative involving some 35 nations aims to solve many complex revenue-reporting problems, including improving the flow of information across national borders. But solutions can't even begin until individual nations get a grip on accurate data about extractive industries within their own borders. The results could illuminate key environmental policy issues.
Environmental journalists are still waiting to see whether EPA revises the draft Scientific Integrity Policy in which it claims the right to keep scientists from talking to reporters without press office permission — and have Saddam-style "minders" sit in on interviews.