Spin control and the security state may have taken large bites out of the First Amendment in recent years, but the pushback celebration known as Sunshine Week has never been more robust. Pushing for open government is a trend. Nowhere is this more true than on the environment and energy beats.
- SEJ Publication Types:Visibility:
A new USGS database gives you downloadable information on some 47,000 wind turbines in the United States. This allows environmental journalists to come up with all kinds of local, regional, or national stories about wind energy and its impacts.
The oil and gas industry is not currently required to report toxic emissions from certain smaller operations — such as wells — because they do not fit EPA's definition of a TRI "facility." Yet 14 groups, led by the Environmental Integrity Project, have compiled and released data showing that oil and gas extraction facilities in just six states emitted ~8.5 million tons of toxic chemicals yearly.
Taxpayers' money funds the Congressional Research Service as it produces objective and authoritative reports on issues facing Congress — many on subjects of interest to environmental journalists. Congress, however, does not share these reports with the public who paid for them. Thanks to the Project on Government Secrecy, another batch of the reports has been leaked and published.
A study issued by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) using campaign contribution data found the fracking industry gave increasingly more in districts hosting fracking than in nonfracking districts between 2004 and 2012.
OSHA's proposed silica rule "requests" (not requires) that commenters state clearly who paid for any research they cite and declare whether there may be possible conflicts of interest or whether the funder of the research may have influenced its findings. But 16 Senate Republicans have complained of OSHA's request for funding disclosure.
Environmental journalists may find a story by asking about the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of a nearby coal-burning power plant or major chemical refinery. A new online EPA database gives information about the largest GHG emitters, makes the query easier and the answers more accurate.
This special issue of the WatchDog focuses on the transparency of safety information related to dams, levees, impoundments, and related water-control structures. For environmental journalists, these subjects offer a goldmine of great story possibilities. These are stories that have not been covered much in the past decade, and stories that fit well at the local, state, or regional level.Topics on the Beat:
A U.S. district judge on October 2, 2013, brushed aside claims by EPA and the Luminant Corp. that information related to pollution from the company's coal-burning power plants was "confidential business information" — which seems to be a growing excuse for withholding public-interest information.
Under law, Pennsylvania was supposed to publish a report outlining climate change impacts on the state by Spring 2012. But the Department of Environmental Protection says it is still being reviewed, and nobody will say when it might be published.Region: