If you report on agriculture-related environmental issues, you may find useful a new geodata tool available free to the public online. Monsanto has bought The Climate Corporation (for $930 million), which compiles weather, soil, and crop data down to the field level.
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The Center for Effective Government has compiled an interactive mapping database of some of the most dangerous chemical facilities in the U.S., showing their proximity to schools. The group also mapped which Congressional districts contain the most schoolkids at risk.
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The National Bridge Inventory is a data tool that environmental and energy reporters can use to make their beat relevant to a wider audience. Compiled by the Federal Highway Administration, it can provide leads on stories like the use of federal highway funds, poor bridge maintenance, and even the pollution of water bodies with lead paint.
Local reporters can find information about coal-ash situations in their own areas using a newly improved database compiled by the Environmental Integrity Project which goes well beyond anything previously available because it includes large amounts of painstaking research by EIP. The site is important for its focus on contamination of groundwater that people may drink by the toxic heavy metals in coal combustion wastes.
The U.S. EPA has put online a "Data Finder" tool that simplifies finding and accessing data that may help you report your particular story. Find datasets by searching in many dimensions: media (air, water), health risks, pollutants, and others. It has an easy browse feature, and links to even more datasets than does EPA's mainstream Envirofacts portal.Topics on the Beat:
More than a dozen news media organizations filed a brief May 6, 2014, arguing that the Federal Aviation Administration is violating the First Amendment with its limits on drones. The media groups were intervening in the appeal of a judge's overturning of a $10,000 Federal Aviation Administration fine imposed on Raphael Pirker, a videographer who shot a promotional video of the University of Virginia campus.
Workers exposed occupationally to toxic chemicals and other safety threats are often the first sign of danger to the general population. A new portal combining Labor Department enforcement databases offers environmental journalists a new tool for exploring such stories.
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