The U.S. Department of the Interior is not winning many awards for openness. A House subcommittee recently took up the complaint that Interior's Office of the Solicitor would not even honor the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) ombudsman's office with a response to repeated letters.
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The Senate-passed bill contains an explicit exemption from permits and fees for newsgathering. A House energy bill, now going to conference to be reconciled with the Senate bill, contains no newsgathering exemption. But that's not the end of the story. Image courtesy of NPS.
U.S. EPA on April 29, 2016, posted on its website the 2015 "final" report by its Cancer Assessment Review Committee on the widely used herbicide glyphosate, sold commercially by Monsanto as Roundup. But on May 2, the report vanished from the EPA site.
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The Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) lobbied successfully to pass and preserve the "Halliburton Loophole," which exempts the oil and gas industry from the law requiring disclosure of toxic fracking chemicals.
Reflexive secrecy has been a hallmark of government efforts to deal with highly hazardous chemical facilities in recent decades. Another reminder of that secrecy came in an April 11, 2016, piece in Greenwire by Sam Pearson. Photo: The fertilizer plant in West, Texas, that exploded in 2013, killing 15 people, by Shane Torgerson, courtesy of Wikipedia.
In 2011, EPA produced — and subsequently buried — a draft report on fracking contamination at Pavillion, Wyoming. Now one of the authors of the original draft has co-published a review of the research in the independent journal Environmental Science & Technology. The new study, based on FOIA'd documents, links fracking and polluted wells.
The Project on Government Oversight FOIA'd FEMA/DHS in 2006 for documents that might reveal hanky-panky with billions of dollars in Hurricane Katrina recovery contracts. In December 2015, DHS finally wrote POGO to say that disclosing the records would constitute an "unwarranted invasion of privacy."
SEJ’s WatchDog Project director Joseph A. Davis analyzes local and regional media's role in reporting — or not — the Flint water debacle.SEJ Publication Types:Region:
The Senate Energy Committee last November approved a different version of the bill which seems to include an exemption from fees and permits for "news gathering." But whether it will pass on the floor or get reconciled with the House bill in an election year is unknown.