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

July 1, 2015

  • The WatchDog has long whined about Congress' mystifying refusal to let taxpayers read Congressional Research Service reports the taxpayers have paid for. A June 17, 2015, editorial in the New York Times called the situation "absurd," expressing hope that a new director of the Library of Congress (home of the CRS) would manage to get the policy changed.

  • The mandate for disclosure of oil train information set by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) in a May 2014 emergency order still exists. But getting that information will be harder — and a battle that must be fought by reporters and public safety advocates on a state-by-state basis.

  • At the Spills of National Significance (SONS) Draft Communications Strategy forum on June 8, and in a June 30 letter, SEJ urged SONS communicators to release data fully and promptly, to acknowledge uncertainties and gaps, and to give journalists good access to officials, experts and places.

June 17, 2015

  • The American Medical Association, the nation's largest professional association of medical doctors, advocates public policies that doctors believe will protect public health. On Jun 9, 2015, the organization said fracking operation information should go not only to doctors, but also to the public whose health may be at risk.

  • The Center for Biological Diversity filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents on offshore Gulf fracking, and was refused by two Interior Department offshore drilling agencies, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. CBD sued, and the lawsuit was settled June 2, 2015.

  • Not all journalists were welcome at the Heartland Institute's annual conference messaging doubt about climate change June 11, 2015. Brendan Montague, editor of DeSmog UK, was denied a press pass for the event and escorted from the meeting site by hotel security.

  • Congress, you may remember, has exempted itself from the requirements for open government — and that included a ban on publishing taxpayer-funded explainers by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). Thanks to the Federation of American Scientists, you can read them anyway.

  • Some environmental reporters find or research stories by browsing science journals. But difficulty of access to those journals is a common barrier to robust, science-based journalism. The barriers have been getting worse, says a new study — in a science journal.

June 3, 2015

  • It appears to an outside observer that NYT reporter Coral Davenport was uninvited to EPA's "Waters of the U.S." (WOTUS) rule announcement phone call as retaliation for an unfavorable story she had written about the agency's public affairs operation the week before. EPA says not.

  • The Congressional Research Service, a taxpayer-funded agency, produces a steady stream of fact-filled and objective background reports on many issues of interest to environment and energy reporters but refuses to share them with the public. But there are other ways to access them...

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