The SEJ WatchDog

 

The WatchDog TipSheet is a monthly source of story ideas, articles, updates, events and other information with a focus on freedom-of-information issues of concern to environmental journalists in both the United States and Canada.

Journalists can receive WatchDog TipSheet free by subscribing to the SEJournal Online, the digital news magazine of the Society of Environmental Journalists. Subscribe to the e-newsletter here

WatchDog TipSheet is also available through the searchable archive below and via RSS feed.

Latest WatchDog TipSheet Items

July 15, 2015

July 1, 2015

  • The WatchDog has long whined about Congress' mystifying refusal to let taxpayers read Congressional Research Service reports the taxpayers have paid for. A June 17, 2015, editorial in the New York Times called the situation "absurd," expressing hope that a new director of the Library of Congress (home of the CRS) would manage to get the policy changed.

  • At the Spills of National Significance (SONS) Draft Communications Strategy forum on June 8, and in a June 30 letter, SEJ urged SONS communicators to release data fully and promptly, to acknowledge uncertainties and gaps, and to give journalists good access to officials, experts and places.

  • The issue re-ignited recently when astrophysicist and climate change denier Willie Soon, affiliated with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, was revealed to have taken funding — but not disclosed it — from fossil fuel interests. Now the Smithsonian Institution has said it will tighten its guidelines for disclosure of funding by its researchers.

  • The mandate for disclosure of oil train information set by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) in a May 2014 emergency order still exists. But getting that information will be harder — and a battle that must be fought by reporters and public safety advocates on a state-by-state basis.

June 17, 2015

  • Some environmental reporters find or research stories by browsing science journals. But difficulty of access to those journals is a common barrier to robust, science-based journalism. The barriers have been getting worse, says a new study — in a science journal.

  • The American Medical Association, the nation's largest professional association of medical doctors, advocates public policies that doctors believe will protect public health. On Jun 9, 2015, the organization said fracking operation information should go not only to doctors, but also to the public whose health may be at risk.

  • The Center for Biological Diversity filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents on offshore Gulf fracking, and was refused by two Interior Department offshore drilling agencies, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. CBD sued, and the lawsuit was settled June 2, 2015.

  • Congress, you may remember, has exempted itself from the requirements for open government — and that included a ban on publishing taxpayer-funded explainers by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). Thanks to the Federation of American Scientists, you can read them anyway.

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