In addition to nuisance smells, confined animal feeding operations (aka CAFOs) can present serious air and water pollution problems. They are weakly regulated. Now a federal appeals court says information on who owns those feedlots can be kept secret. Image: © Clipart.com.
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The Congressional Research Service produces expert nonpartisan backgrounders on many subjects of interest to environment and energy journalists. But Congress won't release them. Thanks to the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy, you can read them now.Topics on the Beat:
A lawsuit over Wyoming's controversial "data trespass" law, which made it illegal to document pollution violations on "private open land", was settled in August without really resolving any of the important Constitutional issues behind it — and with both sides claiming victory.
A key issue on the Freedom of Information Act is once a government record is released to a single FOIA requester, should it then be automatically released to any other requester and the general public? "Yes" was the answer from most journalists surveyed by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press — but with an important caveat. Image: © Clipart.com.
Is text messaging compatible with open meetings? Courts have for several years upheld the notion that texts can be public records. The problem, of course, is knowing about them — since they are less visible than meeting minutes. Image: © Clipart.com.
Food industry groups generally liked the new rule, saying that it improved transparency. But consumer groups said it did not go far enough. Image: © Clipart.com.
Embroiled in a growing scandal about efforts to cover up the science on the threat posed by coal ash to North Carolinians' drinking water, Duke Energy is asking a court to hold a hearing to discover the source of a document leaked to the Associated Press.Topics on the Beat:
Previously secret information about the safety and environmental impact of Enbridge pipeline operations was released in July as a result of efforts by journalist Mike De Souza (pictured), managing editor of the National Observer, and an independent Canadian government watchdog.
Consumers learned in late July of a "voluntary" recall of some processed food products due to possible metal fragments in sugar used to make them. The source of the contaminated sugar remains unknown, because federal law protects "trade secrets" — putting protection of companies above protection of the public. Image: © Clipart.com.
Journalists are sometimes competitive — and even secretive about the exclusive "scoops" they may be working on, lest their competitors beat them to publication. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is conducting a survey to get journalists' opinions on the Obama admin's proposed release-to-one-release-to-all policy.