A bill that would mandate open public access, free of charge, to papers resulting from federally funded research is currently languishing in the GOP-controlled House. Private for-profit publishing companies aim to stop it, preserving their control over the science publishing market. One of these is Elsevier, the largest single academic publisher in the world, currently being boycotted by almost 7,000 researchers worldwide.
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The Patton Boggs lobbying firm, which represents the mining industry, has sent letters threatening unspecified legal action against four scientific journals if they publish results of a study about the exposure of miners to diesel emissions, according to Science magazine.
This year's Farm Bill deliberations have been less transparent than ever before. In that spirit, SEJ's WatchDog shares a backgrounder, published by the Federation of American Scientists, on the 2012 Farm Bill done by the Congressional Research Service — which keeps their taxpayer-funded reports secret from the public.
The complaints came out at the Vancouver meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) this month — the main multidisciplinary science conference held yearly on the continent. Also during the meeting, a letter from six journalism and science groups called on Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to end the muzzling-scientists policy was released.Region:
A federal judge ruled that once the documents — depositions of US Forest Service employees about a 2007 forest fire in California that burned tens of thousands of acres — had been entered into court records as part of the evidence discovery process, they were presumptively public records and had to remain that way.Region:
Internal BP corporate memos dating back to the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout show that the company was concerned about a spill rate much higher than what it publicly estimated at the time. The memos were released as part of federal court proceedings.Topics on the Beat:
On January 27, 2012, SEJ wrote to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, after unreturned phone calls and ignored emails, in an attempt to get the agency to resume quarterly conference calls to discuss access issues and the run-around SEJ members endure when trying to do their jobs.
Read SEJ's February 6, 2012, letter to Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chair Harris condemning ejection of Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Josh Fox from the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology's subcommittee hearing on EPA's policies and enforcement of water quality issues surrounding natural gas drilling or "fracking."
Here, courtesy of the Federation of American Scientists, are some recent Congressional Research Service backgrounders that may be useful to environment/energy reporters, on chemical facility security, nuclear power plant design and seismic safety considerations, and proposed Keystone XL pipeline legal issues.
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: