PROTECTING ACCESS TO ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION

News in Brief

More Attention for USDA’s Lack of Transparency (Environmental Working Group)

"There is increasing attention on the restriction of access to government records on taxpayer funded farm subsidies reported by the Environmental Working Group...It’s crucial for government to truly be accountable by identifying the farm subsidy recipients who use a maze of co-ops, paper farms and corporate entity shell games to maximize their haul of taxpayer dollars."

(26 May 2010)

EPA Expands Public Participation on Hazardous Waste Cleanup (U.S. EPA)

The EPA has launched an initiative to help communities more effectively participate in government decisions related to land cleanup, emergency preparedness and response, and the management of hazardous substances and waste. The Community Engagement Initiative (CEI) plan lays out steps to provide communities with information and opportunities to influence decisions on environmental cleanups. Read the plan.

(21 May 2010)

EPA and DHS Order BP to Stop Hiding Oil Spill Information (OMB Watch)

Today the EPA and Homeland Security took steps to increase the transparency of the response to BP's catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The oil company's actions have been criticized for failing to disclose or monitor important information about the spill, including the quantity of oil erupting into the Gulf, the potential health impacts of the oil and the chemicals used to disperse it, and water and air quality information.

(20 May 2010)

EPA Demands Less-Toxic Dispersant

According to the Washington Post, the EPA "informed BP officials...that the company has 24 hours to choose a less-toxic form of chemical dispersants to break up its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico...and must apply the new form of dispersants within 72 hours of submitting the list of alternatives." Of course, there's still a lot of information we don't know about these chemicals...

(20 May 2010)

How Toxic Are Dispersants Being Used In Gulf Oil Spill? (USA Today)

The two "dispersants" now being dumped onto the Gulf oil spill are banned in the UK; and more effective and less toxic alternatives exist. Information on the toxicitiy, ingredients, and health impacts of the dispersants is either unkown or being kept secret.

(20 May 2010)

On Pesticides: Canadian Bylaws and American Lawn Flags (Environmental Working Group)

"The Canadian and U.S. governments have the same scientific evidence available to them... So why have so many jurisdictions in one nation chosen, as a response to that data, abolition of cosmetic pesticides while jurisdictions in the other rely on dinky yellow flags?"

(20 May 2010)

BP Withholds Oil Spill Facts — And Government Lets It (McClatchy Newspapers)

BP has not publicly divulged the results of tests on the extent of workers' exposure to evaporating oil or from the burning of crude over the gulf, even though researchers say those data are crucial to determining whether the conditions are safe; plus the company is not monitoring the extent of the spill.

(19 May 2010)

Long-Delayed Senate Climate Bill Considers Need for Transparency (OMB Watch)

The new Senate climate and energy bill includes several provisions calling for transparent and participatory policies, especially relating to measures that would create new financial markets for buying and selling the right to pollute. How well such transparency would be implemented is a major question.

(18 May 2010)

EPA Puts More Environment Online (OMB Watch)

Several new online tools developed by the EPA are now available to provide the public with a variety of environmental information collected by the agency.

(18 May 2010)

Emissions Often Underestimated, EPA Standards Old (Associated Press)

An AP investigation suggests "pollution from petrochemical plants is at least 10 times greater than what is reported to the government and the public." The formulas and equipment EPA and facilities use to track emissions are old and unreliable.

(14 May 2010)

BP Chooses More Toxic Alternative for Dispersing Oil Spill

Despite the availability of better, less toxic alternatives, the NY Times reports that BP is sticking with dumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of toxic "dispersants" on the company's catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Plus, we still do not know what exactly is in the dispersants.

(14 May 2010)

Gulf Oil Spill Health Hazards

Learn more about the possible human health impacts of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico with this factsheet.

(13 May 2010)

Fragrance Companies Withhold Chemical Information (CNN)

"Perfumes commonly list 'fragrance' as an ingredient, rather than naming the specific chemicals involved, withholding information that could cause allergic reactions and other health effects, a report released Wednesday asserts."

(13 May 2010)

Farm Income Data Debunks Subsidy Myths (Environmental Working Group)

EWG's updated Farm Subsidy Database chronicles where federal farm subsidy dollars have gone, revealing the true impact of farm programs and who benefits from the billions in farm subsidies. The data confirm that current farm programs are "a taxpayer giveaway to big and already profitable farming businesses. Moreover, these payments are likely exacerbating, rather than solving, the problems of rural communities."

(13 May 2010)

Louisiana Bill Seeks To Limit Citizen Suits (Mother Jones)

A new bill before the Louisiana Senate would bar university law clinics from filing suits against government agencies, suits seeking monetary damages, or suits that raise state constitutional challenges. A key target of the bill is the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic (TELC), which has litigated dozens of suits against industrial polluters and other environmental offenders on behalf of Louisiana citizens.

(10 May 2010)

EPA Environmental Information Conference Free to Public on Web

EPA's 2010 Environmental Information Symposium - which this year focuses on transparency and open government - will be accessible free to the public via the Internet.

(07 May 2010)

Cancer Panel: 'Grievous Harm' Posed By Unchecked Chemicals In U.S. (Washington Post)

According to the President's Cancer Panel, Americans are facing "grievous harm" from chemicals in the air, food and water that have largely gone unregulated and ignored. "With the growing body of evidence linking environmental exposures to cancer, the public is becoming increasingly aware of the unacceptable burden of cancer resulting from environmental and occupational exposures that could have been prevented through appropriate national action."

(06 May 2010)

BP Won't Say What Toxics It's Dumping Onto Its Oil Spill (OMB Watch)

BP refuses to disclose the identities of the chemical "dispersants" it is dumping onto its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The chemical identities are considered trade secrets. Without knowing the chemical identities, we may never know what additional insults BP has left us to clean up for years to come.

(06 May 2010)

Meeting the Information Demands of 21st Century Fisheries (Marine Fish Conservation Network)

"Sustainable fisheries management in the 21st century requires timely, reliable fisheries data and effective monitoring of fisheries in order to make informed, responsible decisions," but according to this new report, more funding is needed to increase the number of observers monitoring fishing vessels.

(05 May 2010)

Spreading the Word on the Oil Spill (Federal Computer Week)

"Federal agencies are employing their Web sites and social media tools to release emergency response and health information about the leak from BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig off the coast of New Orleans." Tools include an EPA webpage, a NOAA website, a Facebook page, and Twitter.

(05 May 2010)