PROTECTING ACCESS TO ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION

News in Brief

Sen. Lautenberg Introduces Bills to Protect Chemical and Water Plants Nationwide (Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ))

Sen. Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced the Secure Water Facilities Act and the Secure Chemical Facilities Act, which will "close a gap that leaves millions of families vulnerable to an attack on America's chemical plants and water treatment facilities." According to Lautenberg, this legislation will "ensure a thorough review of risk, and help us move toward more secure plants and safer communities."

(15 Jul 2010)

Drilling Company Lists Hazardous Chemicals Used in Hydraulic Fracturing (Pro Publica)

Range Resources plans to disclose the hazardous chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania wells on their website. Earthjustice asserts that although this list will help specialists determine whether drilling is polluting drinking water, "It does not by any stretch of the imagination cover what most people would consider to be hazardous."

(15 Jul 2010)

TAKE ACTION - Tell Your Representatives To Support the FRAC Act (Food & Water Watch)

Companies that are threatening our drinking water with hydraulic fracturing can't be held accountable under the Safe Drinking Water Act, and they don't have to disclose the 596 chemicals that they are injecting into the ground. Ask your representative to close the loophole and require companies to disclose the chemicals they are using by passing the FRAC Act.

(15 Jul 2010)

Gulf Seafood Tested for Oil, But Not Dispersants (TC Palm)

The FDA is not testing fish to determine whether compounds found in dispersants used in the Gulf are present in seafood. EWG asserts that the use of dispersants is "irresponsible" because they contain heavy metals, arsenic, chromium, and copper, with little information on their long-term effects.

(14 Jul 2010)

BP's Ex-Media Enforcer Speak Out (Mother Jones)

Former BP contractor Adam Dillon asserts that BP's main strength is "blocking the media from seeing the worst of the disaster in Grand Isle, Louisiana...'They kept it very strict what they wanted the media not to see, and what they wanted them to see.'" According to Dillon,  BP has been telling workers that "if they talk to the media, they'll be fired."

(14 Jul 2010)

Scientists Expected Obama Administration To be Friendlier (Los Angeles Times)

Government scientists are complaining that Obama is not reversing the culture that Bush enforced, where non-scientist managers interfere with the work of scientists and restrict their ability to speak publicly. The most recent example of compromised scientific integrity in the current administration is the decision to fight the Deepwater Horizon spill with potentially toxic dispersants despite scientific advice to examine the risks more thoroughly.

(13 Jul 2010)

BP Getting Daily Exemptions to Directive Limiting Surface Dispersant (ProPublica)

BP's requests to the Coast Guard asking for permission to spray surface dispersants have been "routinely approved, nearly always without modification" although exemptions were intended to be granted only "in rare cases" after EPA ordered BP to "eliminate the surface application of dispersants." 

(13 Jul 2010)

Coast Guard Lifts Ban on News Coverage Near Spill Site (The Associated Press)

Retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen announced that new procedures will allow free travel access for news media within boom safety zones. Allen asserted that this policy will give the press "clear, unfettered access to this event with two exceptions: if there is a safety or security concern."

(13 Jul 2010)

Lousiana and Scientists Spar Over Plan to Stop Oil (New York Times)

Officials were planning to build rock dikes across major tidal inlets between the Barataria Bay and the Gulf of Mexico to capture the oil until the Army Corps of Engineers denied a permit for the project because of its environmental impact. Local scientists argue that similar "quick-fix solutions are being sold to the public with little firm evidence that they will succeed."

(12 Jul 2010)

EPA Holding A Public Meeting to Discuss The NPDES Electronic Reporting Rule (Federal Register)

The EPA has proposed a rule requiring regulated facilities to report National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) data electronically. The EPA is holding a meeting for stakeholders to discuss electronic reporting alternatives for submission of NPDES data and provide feedback about the proposal. The meeting will be held on July 13 in Washington, D.C.

(09 Jul 2010)

Anger Surfaces at EPA Gas Shale Meeting (The Texas Tribune)

Fort Worth, Texas residents showed their anger and fear about the impact of hydraulic fracturing on groundwater at a public meeting convened by the EPA. While the oil and gas industry states that "fracking" occurs far below the water table, citizens are concerned about water pollution. After revealing that local tap water tested positive for lead, arsenic, and other chemicals, Dish, Texas mayor Tillman demanded that the EPA not "let politicians cloud [their] decision." Additional public meetings are scheduled throughout the summer.

(09 Jul 2010)

EPA Relies on Industry-Backed Studies to Determine Safety of Weed Killer (The Huffington Post)

The EPA is publishing studies of the health effects of the pesticide Atrazine in drinking water that have been funded by companies with financial interest in the weed-killer. Many of these studies, which allege that the pesticide has minimal health risks, have not been scrutinized by independent scientists.

(09 Jul 2010)

EPA Proposes Trade Secrets Protections for GHG Reports (EPA)

The EPA is seeking public comment on their  national greenhouse gas reporting program  to determine which industry-related greenhouse gas information should be made public and which non-emission data should be entitled to confidential treatment. The agency is now requiring underground coal mines, industrial water treatment systems, industrial waste landfills, and magnesium production facilities to report their emissions. The EPA is planning to provide data to the public by March 2011.

(09 Jul 2010)

EPA Asks for Public Comment on Administrator Jackson's Draft Plan (EPA)

The EPA is seeking public comment on Administrator Lisa P. Jackson's draft strategic plan, which will help to advance her priorities, describes the environmental and health benefits the public can expect over the next five years, and explains how the EPA plans to achieve those goals. For the first time, the EPA is using a discussion forum to solicit feedback on the strategic plan.

(08 Jul 2010)

EPA Launches A Collaborative Web Site for Integrative Environmental Modeling (EPA)

The EPA has launched the Integrative Modeling Hub (iemHUB), which allows environmental researchers to combine models after analyzing environmental problems to develop a better understanding of the environment. According to the EPA's Office of Research and Development, iemHUB "will advance our ability to predict the impacts of our actions on the environment."

(08 Jul 2010)

EPA Seeks Employee Participation in Chemical Safety Inspections (EPA)

The EPA has released interim guidance that will allow employees and employee representatives to participate in chemical safety inspections, increasing transparency in the inspection process. The EPA is requiring state and local agencies to adopt a similar procedure under the Risk Management Program (RMP). Worker safety advocates have long sought enforcement of this feature of the Clean Air Act.

(08 Jul 2010)

Administration Launches Oil Spill Response Website (deepwaterhorizonresponse.com)

National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen announced the launch of RestoreTheGulf.gov, a website dedicated to improving public access to information about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response and recovery. According to Allen, the web site "will provide even greater transparency and openness about the BP oil spill." The Unified Area Command's current website, www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com, will be phased out over the coming weeks as information there is moved to RestoreTheGulf.gov.

(07 Jul 2010)

Obama Administration Holds America's Great Oudoors Listening Session (EPA)

Obama administration top officials are holding a listening session tomorrow, July 8, in accordance with the America's Great Outdoors Initiative. The goal of the session is to hear the public's  ideas for creating a conservation and recreation agenda and reconnecting Americans to the oudoors.

(07 Jul 2010)

'Climategate' Inquiry Mostly Vindicates Scientists (Washington Post)

A third independent investigation into the leak of hundreds of e-mails from the University of East Anglia's climate research centers has "largely vindicated the scientists involved, saying they acted honestly and that their research was reliable...'We find that their rigor and honesty as scientists are not in doubt,' [Panel head] Russell said. 'But we do find that there has been a consistent pattern of failing to display the proper degree of openness.'" The other two investigations also supported the scientists' research findings.

(07 Jul 2010)

While the Media Is Sandbagged, Is Sand Dumped Over Oil? (Huffington Post)

The Coast Guard recently instated a 65-foot rule between observers and the clean up site in the Gulf of Mexico that is punishable by a $40,000 fine, blocking media access to he site. Without direct access to the site, reporters are beginning to speculate if workers are dumping sand on the shores of Grand Isle, Louisiana to simply cover the oil rather than properly clean it up.

(02 Jul 2010)