According to a press release from the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ), the lead hurricane reporter for New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper has “turned in desperation to the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to answer a basic question: Where are dangerous chemicals leaking as a result of Hurricane Katrina?”
- Katrina Only Latest Example of Feds Withholding Environmental Data, Press Release, Society of Environmental Journalists, Monday September 12, 10:02 am ET
The paper’s Mark Schleifstein, “had been asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that question for days — without an answer. So he filed a request under FOIA. Even though the federal statute provides for “expedited review” when a situation “could reasonably be expected to pose an imminent threat to the life or physical safety” of the public, he still has not received a response.
The SEJ notes that “Government compliance with FOIA appears to be deteriorating in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks” and has issued a new report:
- A Flawed Tool — Environmental Reporters’ Experiences with the Freedom of Information Act (pdf, 31pp) Report of the First Amendment Task Force of the Society of Environmental Journalists. September 12, 2005. by Elizabeth Bluemink, Mark Brush Contributors: Darren Samuelsohn, Lacey Phillabaum.
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