Freedom of access to government scientists is just one narrow facet in a worsening crisis in scientific integrity at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The new WatchDog Opinion argues that whether it’s about self-interested industry lobbying over climate change or the regulation of chemicals, there’s an assault on science itself — and the news media has a role to play.
A profound tightening of companies’ environmental risk disclosure requirements may be ahead, thanks to efforts by the Biden administration’s Securities and Exchange Commission. And the new WatchDog Opinion column argues that as fossil fuel firms position themselves as part of an environmentally sound future, journalists must act too — demanding full disclosure of corporate financial risks related to climate.
Twenty years after the attacks on 9/11, the war on terror has left many risks in the built environment under a cloak of secrecy. For WatchDog Opinion, keeping vital information about such preventable hazards under wraps from the public and journalists is not just wrong, but bad policy. Here’s why. Plus, a rundown for environment reporters of where exactly this secrecy reigns.
For years, public information about some of the deadliest chemical security risks has been limited. But now that the Biden EPA is exploring the issue, our latest WatchDog opinion column explains why this is such an important open information issue for environmental reporters and other journalists.
Leaks are a vital source of information for the news media, but shifting White House policy on pursuing the source of leaks has created confusion and worry among news practitioners. WatchDog Opinion calls for clearer signals from the Biden administration and renews support for a federal shield law to help journalists protect their sources.
A government website that tracked climate change is back after being frozen by the Trump administration. But the return of the EPA’s climate indicator page, argues the new WatchDog opinion column, is just one step in undoing a longer-term and more systematic assault on science that has hobbled truth-seeking journalists. WatchDog on what must come next.
“Science is back at EPA,” declared the agency’s new administrator. But for reporters to do their job means more, argues the latest WatchDog — it means ditching a long-standing policy that requires EPA scientists have permission, along with press office “minders,” for interviews. Why that holds back quality journalism and government responsibility to protect public health. Plus, how past agency appointees have overruled science.
The CDC, long a storied agency of serious import not just to health and science reporters, but also to environmental journalists, took a massive hit to its credibility during the Trump administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest WatchDog opinion makes the case it can do better, and offers 15 steps that may help restore the federal entity to its gold-standard days.
Government suppression of science harms not just journalists, but also the public in its ability to get crucial information and trust in science, not to mention government integrity. So now is the time, asserts the new WatchDog opinion column, for news media to engage intensely over government scientific integrity policies in the making, to be sure that agencies like the EPA get it right.
Testimony from the incoming EPA administrator, along with a little-noticed memo on scientific integrity to Biden’s agency heads, suggest promising changes in government openness. But WatchDog contends the proof is yet to come and offers some advice to the administration. Plus, a letter from SEJ listing some of the things Biden can do to improve relations with the news media.