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

August 8, 2012

  • 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."

  • 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.

  • 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.

July 25, 2012

  • Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility is charging the National Park Service with duplicity for multiple reasons regarding demotion of the North Country, Ice Age, and New England Trails, which collectively span 6,020 miles.

  • 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.

  • The Food and Drug Administration secretly captured e-mails of FDA employees suspected of whistleblowing for agency laxity in protecting the public — but ended up also reading correspondence with reporters, lawyers, and Congress.

  • The blog "Right Side News" took a shot at a meeting hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, which had in fact been covered in several articles in E&E News publications.

July 11, 2012

  • A new OMB Watch report calls full advance disclosure of fracking fluid ingredients "the necessary first step" to protecting people's drinking water and concluded "no state has yet established all of the elements of a chemical disclosure policy strong enough to ensure the quality of the water and the health of communities near gas wells."

  • Under FOIA, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility requested FDA documents justifying its use of categorical exclusions to avoid assessing the environmental impact of not regulating livestock antibiotics. After FDA failed to provide any, PEER filed a lawsuit in federal district court.

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