Superstorm Sandy was a wake-up call on many levels — especially as a lesson on the need to be prepared for disasters. Here are some reporting tools that may come in handy.
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Here are more Congressional Research Service reports relevant to the environment/energy beat, published by the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy.
Should passengers taking off from — or landing at — your local airport worry about bird strikes? You can find information leading to a few answers in the Federal Aviation Administration's online, searchable FAA Wildlife Strike Database.
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What's in that derailed railcar or overturned tanker truck? The answer is often visible on a hazmat placard affixed to the vehicle (we suggest binoculars). The placard often includes a "UN number" which you can look up in the "Hazardous Materials Table" published in the Code of Federal Regulations, among other places.
If your local utility burns coal, there is likely an environmental story about coal ash to be reported near you. A FOIA request by the Environmental Integrity Project and Earthjustice has produced the identities of another 451 coal ash dumps (than previously listed by EPA), raising the total to at least 1161.
A federal judge has denied BP's bid to see 21 e-mails and other documents sent between the White House and other federal agencies. More chilling, perhaps, was BP's effort to get e-mails sent by two private-sector scientists in an apparent effort to discredit their work.
The federal Data.gov, while not perfect, has grown over three years especially strong in datasets from federal agencies that deal with the environment, energy, natural resources, health, and science. Many of them are downloadable, so that you can crunch them on your own computer. Several are map layers or geo-tagged in some way. See a few randomly chosen examples here.Topics on the Beat:
After complaints from BP, the US government agreed to give the company evidence of the basis for its calculation of the flow rate from the stricken Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico. The government will hand over to BP some 100 documents about the size of the 2010 oil spill that have not yet been made public.Topics on the Beat:
The Right-To-Know Network has been around since 1989. Today, with a modern and searchable Web interface, it offers access to some data that reporters would be hard put to find anywhere else. Most important is its collection of Risk Management Plans — which chemical plants are required to maintain to prevent, prepare for, and respond to toxic disasters.