On April 4, 2014, the Alamo Area Council of Governments, the regional area which is supposed to control smog, released its study results — which suggested drilling in the Eagle Ford shale did indeed contribute a lot to smog. Days later, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which had funded the study, cut AACOG's budget by 25 percent.
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For years, under multiple administrations, White House officials have subverted open government by holding illegal "ex parte" meetings with special interests affected by agency rulemakings. The meetings are still secret but now they have made the existing online database of meetings and calls searchable by agency, sub-agency, date range, stage of rulemaking, and regulatory identifier. The catch? You can only search for meetings that happened AFTER April 1, 2014.
U.S. Capitol officials apologized for the brief detention March 28, 2014, of BNA energy reporter Ari Natter, effectively conceding that such incidents should not occur. Apologies came from both Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terry Gainer and Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine in separate e-mail responses to an April 8 letter of complaint from SEJ.
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For decades reporters have staked out doorways in the U.S. Capitol in hopes of shouting questions at emerging bigwigs. But last week Bloomberg BNA energy reporter Ari Natter, trying to question EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, was briefly detained by Capitol Police. McCarthy declined to answer his question.Topics on the Beat:
It was a crisis. Charleston, WV, residents had just been told not to drink city water because of a chemical spill upstream of its intake. It would seem routine to call the US EPA and ask for information or comment — and that's just what prize-winning Charleston Gazette reporter Ken Ward Jr. did. He waited a week for EPA to get back to him on the record. SEJ wants to know why such communication delays at EPA have become the norm.
Spin control and the security state may have taken large bites out of the First Amendment in recent years, but the pushback celebration known as Sunshine Week has never been more robust. Pushing for open government is a trend. Nowhere is this more true than on the environment and energy beats.
Maritime historian Jon Ottman has been denied a fee waiver on records he's requested about an aged U.S. Coast Guard cutter that was auctioned to a shipbreaker in Mexico without, he says, being thoroughly checked for toxic and hazardous materials. Photo: America's Queen — Coast Guard Cutter Storis, courtesy US Coast Guard.
After the SEJ and the Society of Professional Journalists complained January 20, 2014, about federal agency press office stonewalling in the face of the Charleston, WV, drinking water disaster, the agencies responded. Read the text of their replies here.
Corporate lobby groups? Yeah, they can read it. Big campaign donors? They can read it, too. But can the news media and U.S. public read it? — No way! That would be un-American. Welcome to the secretly negotiated trade treaty known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.