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

September 21, 2011

  • Details and documents on the 2006 US-Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement will be released after a federal appeals court ruled Sept. 16, 2011, against claims by the Office of the US Trade Representative that the documents, sought by the Center for Biological Diversity and Conservation Northwest, were exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.

  • A joint investigation by Columbia Journalism Review and ProPublica into the Obama administration's science openness policies offered only faint praise for Obama's accomplishments. Nearly 400 of roughly 2,100 invited journalists responded to their survey, and they gave both the Bush and Obama administrations poor marks for openness at science agencies.

  • Judge Gregory Presnell ruled that the federal Freedom of Information Act did not allow an injunction before the agency itself had made its decision on whether to release the records.

  • Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) has reintroduced a bill that would establish a limited federal protection for journalists when prosecutor and courts seek to compel them to disclose their confidential sources. A similar measure died on the Senate floor at the end of the last Congress.

  • The event, co-sponsored by the Society of Environmental Journalists and other groups, is free and open to the public (RSVP). Panelists include: Curtis Brainard, Columbia Journalism Review science editor; Joseph A. Davis, (SEJ) WatchDog editor; Felice Freyer, Association of Health Care Journalists; Darren Samuelsohn, Politico’s senior energy/environment reporter; and Clothilde Le Coz, Reporters Without Borders energy/environment reporter.

     

     

  • Dam inspections began before the Dec. 2008 spill incident of 5.4 million cubic yards of coal-ash slurry in Tennessee. Afterward, the initial draft engineer's report of the pre-spill inspection noted several eroded areas needed to be fixed "immediately;" the word was subsequently struck from the report.

  • Under fire from all sides for excessive secrecy, the Obama administration has just issued a status report touting its "open government" achievements. One assessment of the report came from the Federation of American Scientists' long-time secrecy watchdog, Steven Aftergood.

September 8, 2011

  • Top officials at the Bureau of Ocean Energy, Management, Regulation and Enforcement have been charged with scientific misconduct regarding a possible cover-up over the suspension and sudden reinstatement of Dr. Charles Monnett, who authored a paper suggesting climate change was harming polar bears.

  • In formal comments on EPA's August 5, 2011, draft Scientific Integrity Policy, submitted September 2, SEJ recommended that EPA adopt portions of a model policy drafted by the Union of Concerned Scientists in addition to affirming that "media have a right to interact with EPA staff, including scientists, without having agency staff and/or political minders listening in or otherwise taking part."

August 24, 2011

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