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

January 12, 2012

  • It remains to be seen how successful the House will be in timely posting of electronic versions of bills — especially when they are thousand-page appropriations bills being rammed through at the last minute. The WatchDog will be watching to see if bills are published electronically well before subcommittee markups begin.

  • It's a common practice, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal. Researchers even do it when the work is government-funded. Environmental reporters should be asking questions.

  • Somewhere near you there is probably an activist who has been doggedly seeking documents from a local, state, or federal agency which has been reluctant to provide them. Their story might well be worth telling. Sunshine Week, March 11-17, 2012, will celebrate "Local Heroes" with a roundup of such stories.

December 14, 2011

  • One example is Walt Tamosaitis, who works for an Energy Department subcontractor. He told a Senate panel on December 6, 2011, that when he raised technical issues about whether nuclear waste cleanup was being done right at the Hanford Site in Washington, he was taken off the project and exiled to the basement.

  • The Portland judge ruled that blogger Crystal Cox, who published allegations against businessman Kevin Padrick and was subsequently sued by Padrick for defamation, was not a journalist as she lacked any conventional journalistic credentials or affiliations, and therefore was not entitled to the protections of the state's shield law.

  • Jack Abramoff, a former lobbyist convicted of mail fraud, is now on a book tour. At least one member of Congress visited him in prison. The federal Bureau of Prisons so far has not released any other names in response to Sunlight's FOIA request.

  • Colorado, which adopted its disclosure rules December 13, 2011, joins Texas, Pennsylvania, and several other states in requiring some disclosure by drillers of the chemicals they pump into shale formations under high pressures to release natural gas. Scores of chemicals, some very toxic, may be involved.

November 30, 2011

  • The Center for Progressive Reform looked at public records on 1,080 meetings held between October 2001 and June 2011 between the White House Office of Management and Budget and lobbyists from various interest groups. Results show the Obama administration is as bad as the Bush administration when it comes to secret meetings with industry to weaken environmental health and safety regulations.

  • The studies are submitted by companies who use the chemicals in commerce, under the Toxic Substances Control Act. EPA's online searchable database can help you find information about such health studies, which were previously withheld because of industry trade-secret claims.

  • Although details of what is said between lobbyists and the White House officials who rewrite agency rules remain largely secret, the Center for Progressive Reform's searchable database allows you to track whether OMB is meeting its deadlines, whether a meeting is linked to an OIRA regulatory review, and whether OIRA changed the rule.

Pages