In formal comments, SEJ stated that the section of NOAA guidance policy requiring advance public affairs approval of media interviews — and minders sitting in on those interviews — thwarts open communication between scientists and reporters, which is "unacceptable in a free society."
- SEJ Publication Types:Visibility:
The draft "Scientific Integrity Policy" marks the first time that the EPA's previously unwritten minders-and-permissions policy for press interviews has been reduced to a publicly disclosed written policy applying to the entire agency. The Society of Environmental Journalists has previously opposed these restrictions and is likely to submit formal comments on this draft policy as well.
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility petitioned NOAA to reverse its no-advocacy policy, saying it's inconsistent with the agency's official scientific integrity policy and the Obama administration's much-vaunted advocacy of more openness in federal government.
New documents, released only after a lawsuit, to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility show the White House is telling agencies they can stick with existing practices when it comes to political interference with science — and do just about anything they want.
Contractors are a powerful force in many corners of the environment and energy beat, and their trade associations are often players in the regulatory and legislative dealmaking that can shape US policy.
The good news, perhaps, is that Interior felt a need to take some policy action in response to the White House's Dec. 17, 2010, memo on science integrity. The bad news? The Interior policy seems to rehash a 2010 decree that scientists criticized, to punish the innocent, and to reward the uninvolved.
The Associated Press reports the House Oversight Committee has asked the Department of Homeland Security for documents about its policy requiring political appointees to review Freedom of Information Act requests.
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility says the Dec. 21 memo implies that existing EPA openness policy meets White House criteria. Meanwhile, the Office of Management and Budget may again be tampering with agency science for political purposes — accused by Arizona congressman Raúl Grijalva (pictured) of censoring FOIA'd documents relating to the mid-summer estimate of Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Anonymous White House lawyers have blacked out all information about how the administration's science openness policy was arrived at, and are fighting in court against efforts to shed light on it.
The order gives agencies 120 days to review their existing secrecy designations and to come up with standardized ones "in a timely manner." When there is doubt, Obama's order states, agencies are to err on the side of disclosure.