The SEJ WatchDog

The WatchDog TipSheet is a regular source of story ideas, articles, updates, events and other information with a focus on freedom-of-information issues of concern to environmental journalists in both the United States and Canada.

WatchDog is compiled, edited and written by Joseph A. Davis, who directs the WatchDog Project, an activity of SEJ's Freedom of Information Task Force that reports on secrecy trends and supports reporters' efforts to make better use of FOIA.

Journalists can track WatchDog TipSheet items for free by subscribing to the SEJournal Online, the digital news magazine of the Society of Environmental Journalists, which will regularly highlight WatchDog news. Subscribe to the e-newsletter here.

WatchDog TipSheet is also available through the searchable archive below and via RSS feed.

Latest WatchDog TipSheet Items

December 18, 2019

  • FOIA is under fire. And for journalists who rely on open records to do their work, the coming year may prove a crucial test of policies at key federal agencies on the beat. This special WatchDog TipSheet takes a deep dive on looming FOIA controversies at Interior and EPA, flagging potential flashpoints for 2020.

July 31, 2019

July 25, 2019

July 24, 2019

  • "The Interior Department’s internal ethics watchdog has opened an investigation into whether top Trump appointees at the agency have violated federal open-record laws by withholding or delaying the release of public documents, emails and policy memos."

  • "Washington, DC — The odds of scientists successfully correcting breaches in scientific integrity are slim to none, according to an analysis by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Very few scientists report research misconduct under official agency scientific integrity policies and almost none of those complaints are investigated, and even fewer sustained."

  • A good-government advocacy group filed suit July 23, arguing that EPA's June 26 Freedom of Information Act rule had been issued illegally and violated FOIA law. The group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) asked a federal district court in D.C. to strike down the new EPA rule.

  • "Senators from both sides of the aisle are backing a bill to strengthen the public’s ability to obtain government records, seeking to counteract recent changes that make it easier for the Trump administration to withhold information."

July 22, 2019

  • "Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), the chairwoman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, said she is “deeply troubled” by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) lack of cooperation with lawmakers in a letter sent Thursday to EPA chief Andrew Wheeler. Johnson said the EPA's failure to provide requested information to her committee represented an “obstruction of Congress,” and she threatened “compulsory measures” if it does not provide previously requested information by July and August deadlines.