If you are hunting stories — or useful background for a story under way — you may find a useful tool in EPA's online, searchable Environmental Impact Statement database.
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More than a decade ago, on February 17, 2000, the entire EPA website was taken down for two weeks because of data security concerns raised by the House Energy Committee. There are faint hints that such events may be in the offing again.
There are well over a thousand binational or multinational environmental agreements, usually technical and obscure. However, environmental reporters would do well to know about them — to shed light on local stories and to find national or international news. Here's help.
The system was developed by the Sunlight Foundation, the National Institute on Money in State Politics, and the Center for Responsive Politics. Just paste in some text or the Web address of an online article, and within seconds Poligraft supplies much of the missing context.
Environmental reporters with ambitions to do investigative projects using databases will find an enormously rich collection of ideas, tips, examples, and tools in the new book released by the Open Knowledge Foundation and the European Journalism Centre.
For reporters wanting to pry open the worm-cans of local environmental stories, EPA's new GIS tool lets you map Environmental Impact Statements project information against a rich backdrop: layer after layer of geographic, demographic, environmental, and economic context. And, it can be used in conjunction with EJView, EPA's environmental justice online mapping tool.
Amanda Hickman explains how the web-based tool DocumentCloud, founded in 2009 with a Knight News Challenge grant, lets journalists engage with the public and knowledgeable sources. Use it to analyze, annotate, and publish the documents behind your reporting.SEJ Publication Types:
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.
At Ethics.gov, search several databases with a single search-term entry, potentially speeding discovery of information. It includes data on lobbying registrations, political action committees, contributions to candidates, travel reports, foreign agents registrations, and more. But some open-government advocates consider it merely a down payment on a more comprehensive system.Topics on the Beat:
The organization Maplight now offers three additional ways of looking at its data. Over 14 million records cover ties between lobbying money, legislators, and either all legislation or that relating to several environmental topics. This information can help you better cover Congressional election races of interest to your audience.SEJ Publication Types: