UPDATE: Freedom Industries Executives Plead Guilty to Criminal Charges for West Virginia Chemical Leak

Former Freedom Industries President Gary Southern and another former Freedom president and owner Dennis Farrell entered guilty pleas at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia today over their roles in the January 2014 chemical spill. Southern could face up to three years in federal prison and is scheduled to be sentenced in December. In addition to Southern and Farrell, four other former Freedom Industries former owners and senior officials have plead guilty to criminal charges and will also be sentenced in December to up to one year in prison.

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New White House Initiative on FOIA Expands Government Transparency

In the days following the 49th anniversary of the nation’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) on July 4, the White House announced a new FOIA-related pilot program involving seven federal agencies. Under the new policy, dubbed “release to one is release to all,” agencies would post information released in response to any FOIA request on its website for all to see. This is a big win for the transparency community, which has been asking for this for years.

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Justice Shouldn’t Be Blind to the Importance of Financial Disclosure

Our nation’s court system depends on trust and impartiality. Judges are supposed to recuse themselves from cases in which they have a conflict of interest. But because of outdated disclosure standards in our nation’s court system, the public too often lacks the information necessary to make sure that potential conflicts are appropriately dealt with. As a result, confidence in our court system is less than it could or should be.

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Two Years After Deadly West, Texas Explosion, New Interactive Map and Report Identify Widespread Chemical Risks to Residents, First Responders

WASHINGTON, April 16, 2015—When the West, Texas fertilizer facility exploded on April 17, 2013, it prompted communities, advocates, and the president to call for stronger chemical safeguards. But two years after the fatal disaster, a new interactive map and report from the Center for Effective Government find significant chemical risks in several states – dangers that first responders and residents may not know about.

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The Administration's New Fracking Rule Has a Few Catches

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) just released a long-awaited rule that regulates fracking on federal and tribal lands, the first revision to federal fracking standards in almost 30 years. BLM currently manages over 100,000 oil and gas wells – over 90 percent of which are fracked. The rule establishes minimum safeguards that must be followed when drilling occurs on federal or tribal lands.

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Interactive Maps and New Report Show State Chemical Safety Policies at Risk from Proposed Federal Legislation

WASHINGTON, March 18, 2015—Two competing bills designed to revise the Toxic Substances Control Act were introduced last week. A new report and interactive maps from the Center for Effective Government unpack the impacts of the two bills. Reducing Our Exposure to Toxic Chemicals: Stronger State Health Protections at Risk in Efforts to Reform Federal Chemical Law discusses the failures of the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 and the starkly different Senate bills that attempt to fix them.

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Oregon Officials Want to Ban Toxins from Children’s Products. A Federal Bill Could Stop Them.

Leaded gasoline. Lead-based paint chips. Bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottles. These are a few things parents no longer have to worry about, thanks to government standards and safeguards. But we still have a long way to go in protecting our children from hazardous chemicals. Manufacturers can still use toxins in children’s products – without disclosing them to consumers.

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Making the Grade: Access to Information Scorecard 2015

We conducted our second annual analysis of the performance of the 15 federal agencies that consistently receive the most Freedom of Information Act requests. Most agencies have improved, but scores are once again low overall.

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As Congress Considers Legislative Improvements, New Report Shows Federal Agencies Still Struggle to Process Public Information Requests in a Timely, Consistent Way

WASHINGTON, March 10, 2015—The Center for Effective Government released its second annual access to information scorecard today, grading the 15 key agencies that receive the most public information requests. The findings: eight out of the 15 agencies improved their overall grades from last year, but none earned an overall A grade. While the number of agencies with overall failing grades fell from five to two, another eight received “unsatisfactory” D grades.

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UPDATE: President Vetoes Keystone XL Pipeline Bill

UPDATE (2/25/2015): President Obama followed through on his pledge and vetoed the Keystone XL bill on Tuesday, within hours of the bill arriving at his desk.

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