This new tool allows any user online to create custom study areas based on a wide range of variables: address, ZIP code, county, city, township, facility, watershed, or geographic coordinates. Other environmental data can then be mapped onto that study area.
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The beta tool allows anyone to compare TRI information from a facility to air pollution data from the same facility or a related one. For example, an investigator could find inconsistencies in the amount of pollution reported by a facility under the two separate laws.
This newly powerful, easy-to-use mapping tool can help environmental journalists find and report great local and regional stories.
The new record for getting raw data reported by industry to the general public: 28 days. Nearly 95 percent of reporting companies filed their reports electronically.
The WatchDog attended EPA's annual training conference for government workers on the Toxics Release Inventory, Nov. 1-3, 2010. See a preview of the showcased offerings, which have extra emphasis on environmental justice and EPA data tools ranging far beyond TRI.
Photojournalists doing environmental stories have been harassed and blocked by federal police for a decade or more when they try to take pictures of federal facilities from public spaces. Now, under a court settlement, the federal government is publicly acknowledging that it is acting illegally when it does this.
The new buzzword is "dark money." Since the US Supreme Court's decision to override Congress and allow unlimited secret cash from corporations (even from foreign governments) to influence US elections, following the money has gotten hard.
It's hard to believe that some of the reports Congress demands of federal agencies are not available to the public. But it's true — not because the reports are classified but because neither the agencies nor Congress bothers to publish them.Topics on the Beat:
As soon as he arrived in office, President Obama promised to bring an unprecedented openness to the federal government. A mid-term report by a watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, concludes that Obama's promise has yet to be met.Topics on the Beat:
Is the federal government covering up mine disasters? The Mine Safety and Health Administration was certainly not going out of its way to dispel that impression when it waited seven years to produce records sought by Ellen Smith, editor of Mine Safety and Health News.