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

April 30, 2014

  • One worker was killed February 11, 2014, when a Chevron gas well exploded near Bobtown, Pennsylvania, and burned for five days.  But inspectors from the state's Department of Environmental Protection were stopped by Chevron from approaching the site — thus keeping them from seeing possible safety violations. The DEP acquiesced at the time, but later cited Chevron for nine violations at the site.

  • Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action wants higher courts to hear its argument that the Navy is required by the National Environmental Policy Act to disclose more information about the impacts of a nuclear submarine facility upgrade at the Kitsap-Bangor Naval Base in Washington state, especially the risk of explosion.

  • On April 4, 2014, the Alamo Area Council of Governments, the regional area which is supposed to control smog, released its study results — which suggested drilling in the Eagle Ford shale did indeed contribute a lot to smog. Days later, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which had funded the study, cut AACOG's budget by 25 percent.

  • Workers exposed occupationally to toxic chemicals and other safety threats are often the first sign of danger to the general population. A new portal combining Labor Department enforcement databases offers environmental journalists a new tool for exploring such stories.

April 16, 2014

  • U.S. Capitol officials apologized for the brief detention March 28, 2014, of BNA energy reporter Ari Natter, effectively conceding that such incidents should not occur. Apologies came from both Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terry Gainer and Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine in separate e-mail responses to an April 8 letter of complaint  from SEJ.

  • For years, under multiple administrations, White House officials have subverted open government by holding illegal "ex parte" meetings with special interests affected by agency rulemakings. The meetings are still secret but now they have made the existing online database of meetings and calls searchable by agency, sub-agency, date range, stage of rulemaking, and regulatory identifier. The catch? You can only search for meetings that happened AFTER April 1, 2014.

  • Exxon had said it was planning to restart the aging pipeline — which was given to seam ruptures — by the end of March. But the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has so far refused requests to make public the restart plan. Elizabeth Douglass wrote about PHMSA's secrecy in InsideClimate News. Photo: The Pegasus pipeline, exposed and suspended in Houston County, 7 miles NW of Crockett, TX, in May 2013. Credit: Safe Community Alliance.

  • In a strongly worded April 9, 2014, letter by SEJ Executive Director Beth Parke and SEJ WatchDog Project Director Joseph A. Davis, SEJ urged Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to apologize to the Toledo Blade and direct military employees not to let such illegal actions happen again: Blade journalists Jetta Fraser and Tyrel Linkhorn were detained March 28, 2014 by military police in a public area outside the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, Ohio. Fraser was held in handcuffs, and military police threatened sexual violence against her.

April 10, 2014

  • Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine responded April 10, 2014, to SEJ's letter complaining about the brief detention of BNA energy reporter Ari Natter on March 28. In an e-mail, Dine said: "some of the most important things we do is protect the rights of citizens to express  themselves and protect the freedom of the press as we go about our duties protecting and serving the legislative process."

April 8, 2014

  • The Society of Environmental Journalists has written Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, condemning "in the strongest terms" the treatment of two Toledo Blade journalists March 28 by military police outside a Lima, Ohio, tank plant. The journalists were on public property when they were detained by military police. Photographer Jetta Fraser's camera was confiscated, even though she was taking pictures of what was in plain public view.

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