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.
- SEJ Publication Types:Topics on the Beat:Region:Visibility:
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.
"The White House blocked efforts by federal scientists to tell the public just how bad the Gulf oil spill could have been, according to a panel appointed by President Barack Obama to investigate the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history."
The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association has filed suit against San Francisco in response to a right-to-know ordinance it passed guaranteeing consumers information about how much electromagnetic radiation their cell phones were exposing them to.
The press policy documents, obtained by Margaret Munro of Postmedia News, reveal scientists must get permission to talk to the press — and climate science and oil sands are off limits. Any statements on those topics must be approved by political appointees at the ministerial level.
The owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded, resulting in the April 2010 Gulf oil spill disaster, is refusing to provide safety documents or a spokesperson to testify to a federal investigative panel.Topics on the Beat:
The revised policy puts the onus on political appointees as well as scientists, declares a presumption of openness in public access to scientific information generated at the agency, and affirms the right of scientific employees to talk to news media and investigative agencies.
SEJ was one of the groups that opposed HR 801, a bill by House Judiciary Chairman John H. Conyers which would allow private journal publishers to copyright scientific articles based on federally funded research.
The National Pipeline Mapping System, while missing many key pipelines, does show pipeline proximity to densely populated areas, where the greatest threat to life exists.