The Ohio legislature cleared a fracking bill May 24, 2012 that increases inspections of wells and requires drillers to hold liability insurance. But Reuters reports: "Many Democrats said the bill paves the way for the industry to hide information about toxic chemicals that could contaminate groundwater."
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A Chicago Tribune investigative series on flame retardant chemicals helps illustrate how federal agency control of what scientists say to reporters can help the chemical and tobacco industries. By reporter Michael Hawthorne.Topics on the Beat:
Environmental reporters with ambitions to do investigative projects using databases will find an enormously rich collection of ideas, tips, examples, and tools in the new book released by the Open Knowledge Foundation and the European Journalism Centre.
Various citizen groups have protested the lack of transparency as negotiators meet for the 12th time in Dallas May 15-18. The 26-chapter draft treaty includes provisions on the environment. But nobody on the outside knows what they are.
After backroom lobbying by gas and oil industry groups, the Obama White House watered down the promised fracking-fluid disclosure requirement promised earlier this year — imposing it only after completion of the fracking operation, when the information may have little effect (such as public pressure on BLM to deny a drilling permit).
Here are some recent reports by the Congressional Research Service related to the environment/energy beat. Congress does not release them to the public. We again thank the Federation of American Scientists' Government Secrecy Project for doing so.Topics on the Beat:
OMB sat on the Office of Government Information Services recommendations for over a year, until a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in March 2012 demanded OMB release the recommendations, which finally happened April 24th. However, no recommendations for legislative change were included. Nobody knows what, if any, legislative recommendations OGIS may have originally proposed.
Now there is research proving what reporters have known all along, thanks to a survey from the Society of Professional Journalists. SPJ commissioned work by survey research professionals who canvassed newsgatherers during January-February 2012. Here are some of the findings and a link to the full report.
For reporters wanting to pry open the worm-cans of local environmental stories, EPA's new GIS tool lets you map Environmental Impact Statements project information against a rich backdrop: layer after layer of geographic, demographic, environmental, and economic context. And, it can be used in conjunction with EJView, EPA's environmental justice online mapping tool.
After complaints from BP, the US government agreed to give the company evidence of the basis for its calculation of the flow rate from the stricken Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico. The government will hand over to BP some 100 documents about the size of the 2010 oil spill that have not yet been made public.Topics on the Beat: