Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules Fracking Law Unconstitutional

Yesterday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned parts of a controversial 2012 state law, called Act 13, which allowed gas companies to drill anywhere in the state without regard to local zoning laws. The Court’s decision upholds the ability of local governments to establish quality-of-life protections their constituencies want.

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Administration Pledges, Again, to Update Nine-Year-Old Website Policy

Attentive readers of the administration’s 2nd Open Government National Action Plan will notice a familiar commitment related to reforming government websites.

Here’s the administration’s first plan, from September 2011:

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Chemical Risks Remain as We Wait for Federal Chemical Safety Reforms

Chemical incidents and injuries steadily continue as we wait for federal efforts to improve chemical safety and security to bear fruit. Last Friday, two employees were burned in a chemical explosion and fire at a petrochemical plant in Alsip, IL. This explosion is one of several across the country that have caused injuries and deaths in recent months.

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Judge Rules Against "Secret Law" in Center for Effective Government Lawsuit

A federal judge ruled yesterday in favor of the Center for Effective Government, ordering the federal government to release documents we requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Specifically, the court ordered the government to disclose the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development, a 2010 document also known as PPD-6.

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Reining in “Controlled Unclassified” Information: Time to Get the Job Done

The administration’s 2nd Open Government National Action Plan, released Dec. 6, includes a welcome commitment to implement the reforms laid out in President Obama’s 2010 executive order on controlled unclassified information (CUI).

Background

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Shining a Light on Office of Management and Budget Rule Review Abuse

While anecdotes about the manipulation of the federal regulatory review process by the White House Office of Management and Budget have circulated for years, a recent Washington Post article on the delay of potentially controversial rules by the OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) prior to the 2012 elections is truly shocking.

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Will the National Action Plan Tackle Spending Transparency Gaps?

The White House unveiled version 2.0 of its Open Government National Action Plan (NAP 2.0) last week. An important part of the plan is shining more sunlight on how the federal government spends our money, such as improving the usability of USASpending.gov (the main public portal for spending information), providing more federal contract information, and making spending data more available in formats easy to parse with computers. We commend the White House for these commitments.

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Defense Department Takes Narrower Approach to Controlled Unclassified Information

A new Department of Defense (DOD) rule requires defense contractors to protect “unclassified controlled technical information” from unauthorized access and disclosure. The rule, issued Nov. 18, is much narrower than DOD’s proposed rule, which had raised concerns that it could result in the inappropriate withholding of public information.

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Calls for Safer Chemicals Dominate Listening Session on Chemical Security

On Nov. 15, three federal agencies held the second of a series of “listening sessions” to improve chemical facility safety and security. Held in Washington, DC, the major point of discussion during the daylong session was on the need for the federal government to require high-risk facilities to convert to safer chemicals when available and affordable.

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House Bills Give Free Reign to the Oil and Gas Industry – Undermine Public Participation

Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed two bills that would give the oil and gas industry free reign over federal lands and hinder public participation in environmental decision-making. Both bills, however, face an uphill battle in the Senate and the Obama administration has already vowed to veto them.

Here is a quick summary of the two bills:

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