Backgrounders

Private Companies Pump Cash from Troubled Municipal Drinking Water Systems

Millions of Americans are served by private rather than public water systems. And while that may be helpful in the case of the tens of thousands of smaller systems that lack key resources, it also raises controversial questions about privatization, as well as about what’s best to insure drinking water safety in a post-Flint era. The latest Backgrounder explains this complex issue, considers the most critical issues and offers resources to report the story in your area.

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Too Late To Wait for Covering Infrastructure Vulnerability, Resilience

Could U.S. infrastructure go from being a saver of lives to a bringer of disaster? Yes, warns our latest Issue Backgrounder, which looks at vulnerabilities for our drinking water supply, sewage systems, flood control, power grids, pipelines, refineries and even hospitals. Are environmental reporters paying enough attention? Here’s why they should, with suggestions on how to go about it.

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Breaking the ‘Cycle’ on Chemical Safety Story

Chemical plant explosions make for fiery headlines, but then the reporting tends to flame out. The latest Backgrounder spells out why environmental journalists should stay vigilant on chemical safety coverage, with news hooks and ingredients for a potent mix of advance stories.

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Environmental Protections in Play Amid Farm Bill Furor

Big environmental issues such as the use of pesticides, labelling of organic foods and the preservation of farmland and water are central to a huge farm bill lurching its way through the nation’s legislature, hamstrung by partisan politics. Our latest Backgrounder sets up the landscape for your coverage.

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Often Misunderstood Estuaries Underpin Environment’s Health

The estuaries that proliferate across the United States can be hard to define — and protect. But their role in a healthy environment makes them a crucial focus of good reporting. The latest Issue Backgrounder explores their importance, the many challenges they face, and how to track the agencies and programs meant to protect them.

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Drinking Water a Little-Noticed Environmental Justice Problem

Health risks from unsafe drinking water afflict many, not only around the world, but in the United States too, especially the poor, ethnic minorities and those in remote rural areas. The latest Issue Backgrounder looks at this undercovered environmental justice story, and offers ideas and resources for how reporters can cover it.

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Trump, Congress Face Test on Infrastructure Politics, Funding

Infrastructure is much in the news these days, with battles over politics and funding yielding stories for environment reporters. In play are a Trump plan, who gets to pick projects, who pays and much more. But in an election year, how likely are infrastructure plans to move forward? The backstory, with angles for environment and energy, plus what to watch for in 2018, in our Backgrounder on infrastructure.

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Charting the Year Ahead in Environment, Energy News

This is a decisive time on the energy and environment front, with challenges and confrontation expected over the consummation of the Trump deregulatory agenda. Our second annual issues guide provides a roadmap for covering the big stories. The guide's formal launch took place at an SEJ event in Washington, D.C. on January 26. If you missed it, the webcast is archived here.

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2018 Elections Could Be Game-Changer for Environment, Energy

The 2018 elections may prove highly consequential for environment and energy policy, possibly slowing or even reversing the Trump-GOP deregulatory agenda. The latest Issue Backgrounder helps reporters frame the choices voters face, including environmental justice and offshore drilling.

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Battle Builds Over Science Integrity in Environmental Policy

Purges of EPA science panels by Administrator Scott Pruitt are just one among many moves in an ongoing dispute over the integrity of the environmental sciences in government policymaking. The latest Issue Backgrounder takes a deep dive with a briefing on five likely battles ahead for the coming year.

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