The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, saying that agencies had 20 days to respond to FOIA requests, stating "what documents would or wouldn’t be handed over and why," according to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
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The unsealed documents revealed that the potential plaintiffs had received $750,000 from frackers Range Resources, which has been accused of high-handed tactics. The case is important in several respects — even beyond the broader controversy over sealing of civil settlements.
Should state freedom-of-information laws disqualify people or organizations from out of state from getting government records? Led by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, some 53 news media groups have urged the US Supreme Court to say no.
A fatal November 30, 2012, collapse of part of a coal-slurry impoundment in West Virginia served as a reminder of safety issues that may not be adequately regulated in some states and localities. You can locate local coal-slurry impoundments and information on their status with an online public database.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was joined by the Washington (PA) Observer-Reporter in a suit to unseal records of the July 2011 settlement of a case in which a family had sued four natural gas companies over damages they claimed were caused by hydraulic fracturing. The appeals court said a lower court had erred in throwing out the newspapers' case.
A Va. court ruled Sept. 17, 2012 that e-mails generated by climate scientist Michael Mann when he worked at the Univ. of Virginia were exempt from the state's FOIA. Mann has been the target of repeated attacks by climate change deniers due to his famous "hockey stick" graph of global temperature records and indicators.
EPA says it could instead compile a database partly from information collected by some states. But that information is often spotty and inconsistent — which will make it hard for EPA to compile it and even harder to make useful conclusions from it. And the withdrawal may make it harder to get the information disclosed.Region:
A company wants to mine Virginia's major uranium deposit so the state formed a multi-agency panel to study ending the three-decade ban on uranium mining. That panel hired a consulting firm that critics say was stacked with experts affiliated with the nuclear industry.Topics on the Beat:
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R, pictured at left), who avows himself a global warming skeptic, had sought from the University of Virginia grant applications by former U.Va. climate scientist Michael Mann, creator of the "hockey stick" graph, and emails between Mann and other scientists.
Most current fracking operations happen on non-federal lands. But on federal lands, things are different — Obama intends to require disclosure of fluids as a condition of new leases for fracking on federal lands. If it takes place, this could push the ingredient lists further into the open.Region: