Got scofflaw polluters in your audience area? Are they owned by political fat cats? Is EPA cutting them more slack than they deserve? Such questions are easier to answer thanks to a recent upgrade of the Environmental Protection Agency's ECHO database, a key tool for environmental investigative reporters.
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Try this free, open-source add-on to Mozilla's Firefox web browser for "web-scraping" — meaning a methodical effort to capture data disclosed on the web and put it into useable form, typically a database.Topics on the Beat:
Science is the key to many environmental stories, and EPA's Office of Research and Development (ORD) offers a wide range of data tools journalists may find worthwhile to explore.
If you want to take advantage of EPA databases to report on local (or even national) environmental conditions, this tool is a step beyond the all-in-one EPA data interfaces many journalists are used to, in that it catalogs some of the less-known specialized databases. It is unusual among government data programs in that it explicitly encourages third-party developers to build apps based on open agency data.
InvestigateWest's Robert McClure and Jason Alcorn explain how to spin the local angle about how parks built or improved with money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund are increasingly being illegally privatized or converted to something other than parks — including sharing their searchable database of almost 40,000 park grants.SEJ Publication Types:Region:
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The Community-Focused Exposure and Risk Screening Tool (C-FERST), available currently to some agencies, communities, and researchers, could be helpful in tracking environmental justice stories: the impact of specific pollutant exposures on particular geographic and demographic communities.
Find a rich collection of online resources courtesy of the National Library of Medicine and others, compiled by SEJ member and NLM technical information specialist Philip Wexler.SEJ Publication Types:
EPA had already released preliminary TRI data for the latest available year (2011), but its National Analysis makes for easier reporting as data is collated by state. It also offers analyses by industry sector and of toxics handling by collating the parent companies of each facility nationwide.
In this issue: Superstorm Sandy's hidden warning; analysis of pivotal enviro issues to watch; new frontiers in visual journalism; keeping up on chemical databases; members helping members: SEJ's mentoring program; media on the move; and book reviews.SEJ Publication Types: