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Feb 8, 2016

Top 400 Taxpayers See Tax Rates Rise, But There’s More to the Story

As Americans were gathering party supplies to greet the New Year, the Internal Revenue Service released their annual report of cumulative tax data reported on the 400 tax r...

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Feb 4, 2016

Chlorine Bleach Plants Needlessly Endanger 63 Million Americans

Chlorine bleach plants across the U.S. put millions of Americans in danger of a chlorine gas release, a substance so toxic it has been used as a chemical weapon. Greenpeace’s new repo...

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Jan 25, 2016

U.S. Industrial Facilities Reported Fewer Toxic Releases in 2014

The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data for 2014 is now available. The good news: total toxic releases by reporting facilities decreased by nearly six percent from 2013 levels. Howe...

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Jan 22, 2016

Methane Causes Climate Change. Here's How the President Plans to Cut Emissions by 40-45 Percent.

  UPDATE (Jan. 22, 2016): Today, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its proposed rule to reduce methane emissions...

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At UN, Obama Calls for Global Transparency but Offers Few Details

On Sept. 23, President Barack Obama addressed the United Nations (UN), calling on countries to strengthen government openness. He emphasized the importance of transparency in fighting corruption and increasing civic engagement. At a world summit the day before, Obama trumpeted his administration's new global development policy, which pledges more transparency related to U.S. aid activities. However, the administration refused to release the text of the policy, and details remain sparse.

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Administration Scores a ‘Shows Improvement’ on Secrecy Report Card

Today, OpenTheGovernment.org released their annual Secrecy Report card, which tracks key indicators and statistics for executive branch secrecy. The Obama administration came into office placing a high priority on transparency and collaboration, promising to be the most open and accountable administration in history. The report, which covers the first 9 months of the Obama presidency, indicates the administration made noticeable progress in several areas.

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EPA Seeks to Enhance Public Access to Chemical Data

Mountaintop The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed several changes to its regulation of chemicals that should improve the public's access to crucial information. The improved data collected under the proposed rule will help the agency and the public identify potential chemical risks and take action to manage those risks.

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Wikileaks War Documents Raise Secrecy, Security Questions

Classified documents from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, released in recent months on the whistleblower website Wikileaks, have garnered public attention and prompted widespread debate. For instance, the website's Afghan War Diary, released in late July 2010, contains thousands of classified military documents relating to the war in Afghanistan. Such leaks have raised questions about whether the information should have been released, whether the leaker and Wikileaks should face prosecution, and the military’s strategies to control information.

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Administration Revises Classification and Declassification Systems

On Dec. 29, 2009, President Obama signed an executive order (E.O. 13526) to prescribe a uniform system of classifying and declassifying government information. The new order was welcomed by open government advocacy groups and will go into effect on June 27.





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Transparency: Change You can Trust

In 2008, we heard a lot about "change." In this 2009 year-end summary, we use another type of "change" to rate the Obama administration's transparency efforts thus far.

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Administration Moves to Postpone Records Declassification

The Federation of American Scientists blog, Secrecy News, revealed early last week that a revised draft of an executive order on the classification of national security information was circulated by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in mid-November.  Despite consulting with the open government community during the policy making process, the policy is rumored to be an unfortunate step backward.

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House Committee Marks Up State Secrets Bill, Sends It to the Floor

On Nov. 5, the House Judiciary Committee began markups on a bill that would codify standards for when and how the executive branch may apply the state secrets privilege in civil litigation. Although the Obama administration has promised certain limitations on its own use of the privilege, civil liberties and open government groups continue to call for legislation to address the privilege. Ultimately, the committee approved the bill on an 18-12 vote and referred the legislation to the full House.

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New Policy Marks First Step in Narrowing State Secrets Privilege

On Sept. 23, the Justice Department released a new policy on use of the state secrets privilege. The policy, which parallels several related recommendations from the Moving Toward a 21st Century Right-to-Know Agenda, will be implemented on Oct. 1. The long-expected announcement drew mixed reactions from public interest groups, ranging from support to criticism that the policy offers little more than a rehash of the heavily criticized policies of the Bush administration.

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Intelligence Community Tries & Fails to add Silly Exemption to FOIA

Earlier this month, the Washington Post ran a story about the intelligence community’s efforts to push legislators to amend the Intelligence Authorization Act (S. 1494) to exempt “terrorist identity information (TII)” from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  Currently, this information is marked as Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) with a stamp that reads “for official use only” but the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) made claims that the information could readily be requested under FOIA with little protection.  We have proof that these claims were ridiculous.

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Resources & Research

Living in the Shadow of Danger: Poverty, Race, and Unequal Chemical Facility Hazards

People of color and people living in poverty, especially poor children of color, are significantly more likely...

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A Tale of Two Retirements: One for CEOs and One for the Rest of Us

The 100 largest CEO retirement funds are worth a combined $4.9 billion, equal to the entire retirement account savings of 41 percent of American fam...

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