The SEJ WatchDog




Searchable archives of the biweekly WatchDog TipSheet's story ideas, articles, updates, events and other information with a focus on freedom-of-information issues of concern to environmental journalists in both the U.S. and Canada are posted here on the day of publication. Journalists are eligible for a free email subscription; send name and full contact information to the SEJ office. WatchDog TipSheet is also available via RSS feed.

Latest WatchDog TipSheet Items

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.

  • 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.

  • Natrona County District Judge Catherine Wilking ruled March 25, 2013, that a company could withhold as trade secret the ingredients used in the fluids it pumped under high pressure to fracture gas- and oil-bearing rock. Environmentalists had sought to make the ingredient list public.

  • The State Department is trying to hide at least two different kinds of information about its Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL pipeline, including graying out key information in the work histories of people involved in the consultation process.

March 13, 2013

  • An Associated Press analysis of data on Freedom of Information Act requests showed little increase in the number of FOIA requests from the public, a slight increase in rejection of such requests, and an increase in federal claims that such rejections were justified by security and internal deliberations.

  • Some U.S. scientists are refusing to sign nondisclosure agreements called for by the Canadian government's Fisheries and Oceans department on an Arctic science project. The story was reported by Margaret Munro for Postmedia News.

  • Secret meetings and conflicts of interest for experts on federal advisory committees are still problems, openness advocates told Congress during Sunshine Week 2013. The searchable Federal Advisory Committee Act online database is a great aid for reporters in searching for this type of information on a particular beat.

  • Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and David Vitter (R-LA) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) on March 7, 2013, released an e-mail exchange they suggest shows EPA lawyers delaying responses to requests for controversial information. They also charge EPA with incompetence and urge U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate.

  • A bipartisan House bill was released March 12, 2013, marking Sunshine Week with proposed steps forward in implementing the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The bill, sponsored by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD), was put out in draft form for discussion and has yet to be formally introduced.

  • Now you can read reports on key topics on the environmental beat — compiled by the Congressional Research Service and paid for with your tax dollars. Congress does not allow CRS to release them to the public. Thanks to the Government Secrecy Project at the Federation of American Scientists for making them available.