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.
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News stories about the April 17, 2013, explosion of a fertilizer storage plant in the town of West, Texas that killed 15 people have so far focused on the plant operator's risk-disclosure failure, instead of the likely fact that government agencies knew the nature and magnitude of the hazard — or should have known. The bigger story is the regulatory failure — and industry's decades-long campaign to keep the public ignorant of the threats they face. Photo: AP/LM Otero/Available through Creative Commons.Topics on the Beat:Region:
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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.
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.
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.Topics on the Beat:
The State Department is trying to hide at least two different kinds of information about its Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL pipeline, including graying out key information in the work histories of people involved in the consultation process.
Now you can read reports on key topics on the environmental beat — compiled by the Congressional Research Service and paid for with your tax dollars. Congress does not allow
CRSto release them to the public. Thanks to the Government Secrecy Project at the Federation of American Scientists for making them available.
Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and David Vitter (R-LA) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) on March 7, 2013, released an e-mail exchange they suggest shows EPA lawyers delaying responses to requests for controversial information. They also charge EPA with incompetence and urge U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate.
Such a move had been resisted for years by the few large companies that dominate the scientific publishing industry. Some open-access groups hailed the memo as a breakthrough that would really allow taxpayers to read the research they pay for. Still, the proof will be in the implementation.