The Freedom of Information Act offers critical access to journalists — that is, when it’s working well. The latest WatchDog Opinion digs into the latest reports from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to see how well it lives up to its FOIA requirements and finds that despite progress, the agency continues to fall short on important measures. Plus, insight into how to work the system.
A growing number of U.S. dams are in poor condition — with potentially lethal results. But the latest WatchDog Opinion argues that equally troubling is that that information is kept secret from the public and journalists in a national database.
The public’s right to know about toxic and hazardous chemicals is currently limited by trade secret rules that no longer serve any true purpose, argues the new WatchDog Opinion column. And a pending federal rulemaking is an opportunity for journalists to make the case to draw back the curtain, for the sake of their reporting and so that they can better cover their communities’ risks.
The Biden administration’s “whole-of-government” attack on climate change has increasingly focused on the financial arena, with the most recent move a vote by the Securities and Exchange Commission to draft rules requiring publicly traded corporations to disclose climate risks. Industry and GOP opponents are preparing for the fight over the complex regulations, and WatchDog Opinion argues environmental journalists have a big stake.
A coalition of open-government and journalism groups is pressing the Justice Department for a clear statement of federal policy favoring openness. The new WatchDog opinion column explains why such a move is needed, and now, not just to signal a change from the Trump-era approach, but also for smoother functioning of the all-important Freedom of Information Act.
Transparency and scientific integrity are good for public health and the environment, not to mention PR and politics. Yet WatchDog Opinion argues they’ve not been fully embraced by the Biden EPA. There are reasons for hope, however, in the form of a cataloging of violations and in an EPA-specific policy. Why it all matters for how environmental journalists do their jobs.
When disinformation pollutes the debate over the environment and climate change, it’s on journalists to recognize industry PR spin and push back against misleading narratives and false narratives, argues the latest WatchDog Opinion column. A look at the industry “playbook” to delay government action, at deceptive language on energy and news media’s obligation to approach the endless pledges skeptically.
Freedom of access to government scientists is just one narrow facet in a worsening crisis in scientific integrity at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The new WatchDog Opinion argues that whether it’s about self-interested industry lobbying over climate change or the regulation of chemicals, there’s an assault on science itself — and the news media has a role to play.
A profound tightening of companies’ environmental risk disclosure requirements may be ahead, thanks to efforts by the Biden administration’s Securities and Exchange Commission. And the new WatchDog Opinion column argues that as fossil fuel firms position themselves as part of an environmentally sound future, journalists must act too — demanding full disclosure of corporate financial risks related to climate.
Twenty years after the attacks on 9/11, the war on terror has left many risks in the built environment under a cloak of secrecy. For WatchDog Opinion, keeping vital information about such preventable hazards under wraps from the public and journalists is not just wrong, but bad policy. Here’s why. Plus, a rundown for environment reporters of where exactly this secrecy reigns.