The Land and Water Conservation Fund, which takes money the feds get from offshore drilling and parcels it out to federal, state and local agencies for parks and conservation land, is a goldmine for environmental stories by enterprising reporters. And now InvestigateWest, a non-profit watchdog journalism outlet, has made LWCF sleuthing easier by compiling an easy-to-use database of LWCF grants made between 1965 and 2011.
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The draft Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) treaty is still being kept secret from the hundreds of millions of people whom it will affect. It matters for environmental journalists as trade treaties often set up mechanisms for corporations to negate the environmental laws of signatory countries. Image: WikiLeaks.
Environmental journalists are not alone in their frustrations with the federal officials who are supposed to help journalists get information about what government is doing. Now the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ) has surveyed its members and found the federal government often blocks access to information that health care journalists seek.
Senator Charles Grassley's opinion matters because he chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over FOIA. He also sits on the Senate Agriculture Committee.
Some commenters say Donald Trump has declared "war on the press." But Hillary Clinton has herself given little access to the news media during the campaign so far. Worse yet, parts of the news media seem to be making the problem worse, by not advocating for press freedom and open information. Profits and ratings have trumped the First Amendment.
Jim Holzer, head of the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), a post often called the FOIA Ombudsman, has decided to step down after less than a year on the job. Some Freedom of Information Act advocates are seeing this as a discouraging sign.Topics on the Beat:
The multibillion-dollar Green Climate Fund, established after the 2009 Copenhagen climate talks to help developing countries adapt, offers many kinds of news to environmental reporters. So controversies around the fund's information disclosure policies are important.
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.
Open government groups have started a 50-day countdown to the law's 50th anniversary. It remains to be seen whether Congress can send President Obama a fix-FOIA bill by that date. Image: © Clipart.com.Topics on the Beat:
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.