April 24, 2013–News stories about the April 17, 2013, explosion of a fertilizer storage plant in the town of West, Texas that killed 15 people have so far focused on the plant operator's risk-disclosure failure, instead of the likely fact that government agencies knew the nature and magnitude of the hazard — or should have known. The bigger story is the regulatory failure — and industry's decades-long campaign to keep the public ignorant of the threats they face. Photo: AP/LM Otero/Available through Creative Commons.
April 24, 2013–Seattle-based InvestigateWest published a feature package last summer documenting illegal parkland conversions in Michigan, New York City, and Oklahoma. They could not cover all the other states — that was left for you to do, with the assistance of their database of some 40,000 federal grants under the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
April 24, 2013–We told you so. But now a Harvard study also says it: the FracFocus registry designed and operated by the drilling industry (and its close friends) fails to meet the public's right to accountability and complete disclosure of chemicals pumped into underground formations that may impact people's drinking-water wells.
April 24, 2013–Government rulemaking takes place with everything on the record in a public docket, right? Well ... actually not. EnergyWire reporter Mike Soraghan revealed in an April 12, 2013 story that presidential aide Heather Zichal met more than 20 times with industry groups lobbying on the proposed rule for fracking on federal lands.
April 10, 2013–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.
April 10, 2013–The March 29, 2013, spill from ExxonMobil's Pegasus Pipeline near Mayflower, Arkansas is a big deal for several reasons. But the most important thing about the Mayflower spill may be that ExxonMobil and the federal agencies involved seem to be trying to keep news media from getting close enough to see what is going on. Read SEJ's letter protesting the media treatment, and EPA's response.
April 10, 2013–It may come as little surprise that an unknown number of Americans could die as a result of White House weakening of food safety rules mandated by Congress. The Office of Management and Budget has been secretly weakening environmental health and safety at industry request for years. The surprise is that we found out.
April 10, 2013–President Obama's nominee for EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy, faces a confirmation hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee Thursday, April 11, 2013. SEJ has urged committee members to ask McCarthy about her commitment to open government and whether she will fix EPA's "badly broken" news media policies.
March 27, 2013–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.
March 27, 2013–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.