As part of its efforts to develop and implement Data Quality Guidelines, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced plans to develop “Assessment Factors” to assist the agency in evaluating the quality of information and data that it receives from external sources.
Sen. Jon Corzine’s (D-NJ)
Signers of the letter included industry groups such as the American Chemistry Council, the American Petroleum Institute, the National Association of Manufacturers , the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Edison Electric Institute.
Even though the deadline of May 1st for agencies to produce drafts of their Data Quality Guidelines has long past, several agencies and departments have only recently completed and published their drafts for public comment. Among the recent drafters were several major departments such as the Department of Energy, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Fish & Wildlife Service, Office of Surface Mining, National Parks Service, and U.S. Geological Survey.
Last week officials from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requested a meeting with various public interest groups concerned with public access to government information. The purpose was to discuss OMB’s upcoming efforts to define the category of "sensitive but unclassified" for government information. This vague term generated a great deal of confusion and concern among information advocates when addressed in a memo prepared at the request of Andrew Card, White House Chief of Staff.
A recent chemical accident reinforced the importance of Sen. Jon Corzine’s (D-NJ) pending legislation, the Chemical Security Act (S.1602). In Crystal City, MO, a hose used to remove chlorine from freight cars ruptured creating a toxic cloud that sickened dozens. The leak began around 9:30 in the morning on August 14, 2002 and was stopped around noon.
Even though light wind and steady rain kept the cloud from spreading beyond the relatively sparsely populated area near the leak, hundreds of people were evacuated and over 50 people were treated for exposure.
Shortly after the House passed a Homeland Security Act that contained broad restrictive information provisions, the Senators on the Government Affairs Committee reached a compromise on narrower language. The final House provisions included a broad new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) exemption, with extremely vague definitions, for information voluntarily submitted to the new Department, granted corporations civil immunity, preempted all state and local open records laws, and made it a crime for any federal employee to release such information to the public.
On July 25 the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously approved S. 1602, a substitute version of the bill originally offered by Sen. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) in October 2001, that would require each chemical plant to address its vulnerability to a terrorist attack. Under the bill, plants must submit plans to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showing how they will address their vulnerabilities. As this article points out, chemical plants have many hazards that could be removed to make them safer in the case of an accident or a terrorist attack.