New Posts

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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Nuclear Commission Re-proposes Secrecy Rule

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has once again proposed a revision to its rules on information that should be withheld from the public under a category called Safeguards Information (SGI). The rule was originally proposed in February 2005. Now based on public comments and changes to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the NRC has proposed additional changes. While apparently narrowing the scope of some provisions, making it harder to withhold information, the amended rule would significantly expand SGI's definition, inserting language and add a new category of covered information -- Safeguards Information-Modified Handling (SGI-M).

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Intelligence Agencies Go Wiki

John Negroponte, director of National Intelligence, announced that federal intelligence agencies have implemented a new Wikipedia-like tool to share information across agencies. Intellipedia allows 16 intelligence agencies to access, update and revise pages on matters of national security. This cutting-edge venture in government information management is a welcome development for agencies that have often been stymied by turf warfare and other impediments to information sharing.

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Declassification Board: Bulwark Against Excessive Secrecy or Executive 'Puppet'?

Controversy was sparked this week over how much authority the newly-funded Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) has to investigate excessive secrecy. A bipartisan group of Senators from the Senate Intelligence Committee requested that the board review two reports on intelligence failures leading up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq for possible over-classification. In an interim response, the board maintained it can only review a document after receiving authorization from the president. If this decision stands, PIDB will hold no independent power to review potential abuses of power and cases of unnecessary secrecy.

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Bill Requires Release of Sensitive Security Information

In a positive development for open government, earlier this month President Bush signed into law the 2007 Homeland Security Appropriations Act which included provisions that mandate that all documents categorized as "sensitive security information" (SSI) be released after three years. Only a determination by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that there is a "rational reason" to continue to withhold the information can postpone the release.

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Secretive Biodefense Legislation Moves Forward

The House and Senate are nearing a vote on legislation to authorize a new federal agency, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency (BARDA), within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The agency would oversee "advanced research and development" of countermeasures to bioterrorism threats, epidemics, and pandemics, and would have broad authority to exempt information from public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

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Government Receives Poor Grades on Secrecy

Government secrecy continues to expand across a broad array of agencies and actions, according to a new report from OpenTheGovernment.org. The Secrecy Report Card 2006 is the third of its kind produced annually, reviewing numerous indicators to identify trends in public access to information.

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Five Years Since 9/11: More Secrecy, Less Security

Monday marked the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, yet the government's efforts to secure the nation against another terrorist attack have been minimal, leaving the country's chemical plants, ports, and other installations dangerously unsecured while increasing secrecy and intrusion into civil liberties.

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DHS Fails to Protect Critical Infrastructure

On Sept. 1, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a final rule for procedures for handling information about critical infrastructure. The rule amends the interim rule issued in February 2004, for which OMB Watch submitted comments. Unfortunately, DHS ignored OMB Watch's suggested modifications, and the final rule opens the door to misuse by the private sector, allowing companies to restrict public access to information that is vital to protecting public health and safety.

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Reports Show the Good and Bad in Agency Classification Procedures

Continuing its study of classification procedures, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released two reports, one focusing on the Department of Defense (DOD) and the other on the Department of Energy (DOE). The reports offer a stark contrast, bemoaning DOD's "lack of oversight and inconsistent implementation" of classification policies, while praising DOE's "systematic training, comprehensive guidance, and rigorous oversight."

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Report, Legislation Drive Push to End Pseudo-Classification of Information

No government-wide policies or procedures currently exist to guide agencies through deciding what information should be withheld from the public due to its "sensitive but unclassified" nature. The federal agencies are also without uniform rules that govern who makes such designations and how such information is handled, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Legislation introduced by Reps.

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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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