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

March 7, 2012

February 22, 2012

  • The complaints came out at the Vancouver meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) this month — the main multidisciplinary science conference held yearly on the continent. Also during the meeting, a letter from six journalism and science groups called on Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to end the muzzling-scientists policy was released.

  • The Patton Boggs lobbying firm, which represents the mining industry, has sent letters threatening unspecified legal action against four scientific journals if they publish results of a study about the exposure of miners to diesel emissions, according to Science magazine.

  • A landmark Supreme Court decision awarded Port Townsend residents the right to know about the potential location of explosives on the Indian Island Naval Magazine near their town. After losing the case, the Defense Department bolstered its legal grounds for secrecy by asking Congress to slip into the 2012 Defense Authorization an amendment creating a new statutory exemption to FOIA for the DOD.

     

  • This year's Farm Bill deliberations have been less transparent than ever before. In that spirit, SEJ's WatchDog shares a backgrounder, published by the Federation of American Scientists, on the 2012 Farm Bill done by the Congressional Research Service — which keeps their taxpayer-funded reports secret from the public.

  • A bill that would mandate open public access, free of charge, to papers resulting from federally funded research is currently languishing in the GOP-controlled House. Private for-profit publishing companies aim to stop it, preserving their control over the science publishing market. One of these is Elsevier, the largest single academic publisher in the world, currently being boycotted by almost 7,000 researchers worldwide.

February 8, 2012

  • Internal BP corporate memos dating back to the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout show that the company was concerned about a spill rate much higher than what it publicly estimated at the time. The memos were released as part of federal court proceedings.

  • On January 27, 2012, SEJ wrote to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, after unreturned phone calls and ignored emails, in an attempt to get the agency to resume quarterly conference calls to discuss access issues and the run-around SEJ members endure when trying to do their jobs.

  • A federal judge ruled that once the documents — depositions of US Forest Service employees about a 2007 forest fire in California that burned tens of thousands of acres — had been entered into court records as part of the evidence discovery process, they were presumptively public records and had to remain that way.

     

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