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

August 22, 2012

  • You wouldn't think you would get arrested for trying to cover the 2012 Democratic convention in Charlotte, NC, September 4 or the Republican convention in Tampa, FL, August 27. But such things have happened before, and reporters have available some resources to support their rights.

  • For years, scientists at the National Toxicology Program have published the "Report on Carcinogens," which lists chemicals known to (or believed to) cause cancer. The "12th Report on Carcinogens" was released on June 10, 2011 — will there be a 13th? Some House Republicans want to stop updating and publication of the report.

  • The Food and Drug Administration is so far refusing to name a Southwestern Indiana farm that voluntarily recalled its cantaloupes after a Salmonella outbreak last month that killed two people and sickened some 150.

  • More than a decade ago, on February 17, 2000, the entire EPA website was taken down for two weeks because of data security concerns raised by the House Energy Committee. There are faint hints that such events may be in the offing again.

August 8, 2012

  • Bruce D. Brown, a former reporter and media lawyer, will be the new executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press — a key advocate for press freedom and freedom of information in the United States.

  • A bid to drop the legal requirement that drinking water utilities mail annual "Consumer Confidence Reports" reports on any contaminants in water delivered to customers fell short in the Senate June 21, 2012. An amendment, by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), would have allowed utilities to deliver the CCRs to their customers online, rather than via US Postal Service.

  • Topics of the latest reports, published by the Federation of American Scientists, include Arctic changes, mountaintop mining controversies, pollution control law enforcement, climate change, midnight rulemaking, scientific papers/security risks, oil sands enviro issues, and fracking/drinking water.

  • What's in that derailed railcar or overturned tanker truck? The answer is often visible on a hazmat placard affixed to the vehicle (we suggest binoculars). The placard often includes a "UN number" which you can look up in the "Hazardous Materials Table" published in the Code of Federal Regulations, among other places. 

  • An analysis of records and statistics by Post reporter James Ball concluded: "Three years later, new evidence suggests that administration officials have struggled to overturn the long-standing culture of secrecy in Washington. Some of these high-profile transparency measures have stalled, and by some measures the government is keeping more secrets than before."

July 25, 2012

  • EPA says it could instead compile a database partly from information collected by some states. But that information is often spotty and inconsistent — which will make it hard for EPA to compile it and even harder to make useful conclusions from it. And the withdrawal may make it harder to get the information disclosed.

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