Despite our holiday wishlist, every year some government agencies, officials and private companies fight back against the public’s right to know, which is why we are looking for your nominations for the 2024 Foilies, “awards” that highlight intransigence, secrecy and all sorts of other transparency-thwarting.
In the last two weeks, MuckRock’s tech team has been hard at work enhancing the DocumentCloud platform. Notable updates include an improved method for changing the access level of documents in DocumentCloud, a range of new and upgraded Add-Ons and revamped functional tests for DocumentCloud’s frontend.
Midwest pollution spiked dramatically this summer because of Canadian wildfires. Now officials may erase those days from the books.
Dozens of states and the EPA are so concerned they may exclude the smokiest days from the legally binding score cards that determine whether they’re doing enough to fight pollution, according to a joint collaboration between the Tribune and the nonprofit news site MuckRock. Now some states are considering banding together in a joint effort that could trigger the largest exclusion in the history of the federal Clean Air Act
The Cicero Independiente and MuckRock have been monitoring air pollution in Cicero. What we found: Cicero’s air quality is much worse than surrounding Cook County neighborhoods, and it’s worse than what the Environmental Protection Agency and pilot programs run by the city and Microsoft have routinely reported.
‘Atomic Fallout’: Records reveal government downplayed, ignored health risks of St. Louis radioactive waste for decades
The Missouri Independent, MuckRock and The Associated Press spent months combing through thousands of pages of previously-unreleased government records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act that show radioactive waste was known to pose a threat to people living near Coldwater Creek as early as 1949. But federal officials repeatedly wrote potential risks off as ‘slight,’ ‘minimal’ or ‘low-level.’
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“Smoke, Screened” is an investigative series by The California Newsroom, MuckRock and the Guardian on the large environmental impact of a little-noticed deregulatory tool found in the Clean Air Act. The provision in the Clean Air Act has allowed the Environmental Protection Agency to strike pollution from clean air tallies in more than 70 counties, enabling local regulators to claim the air was cleaner than it really was for more than 21 million Americans. The loophole allows regulators to forgive pollution, and avoid costly cleanup work, caused by “natural” or “uncontrollable” events, including wildfires.
Chicago’s air quality is among the worst in the U.S., and the city has several local hotspots for particulate matter 2.5 — the tiny particles that come from diesel trucks and industry and enter people’s lungs and blood, causing significant health problems. Between April 2021 and March 2023, the tech company Microsoft installed and monitored 115 air quality sensors across Chicago. We worked with Chicago newsrooms, including the Cicero Independiente, WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times, to analyze this data for a series of stories on the city’s comparatively poor air quality. We then installed our own air quality sensors in Chicago neighborhoods that lacked coverage in the Microsoft network — and looked for trends and spikes in pollution.
Death certificates have long been prone to error. During the pandemic, they've gotten worse, resulting in thousands of uncounted COVID-19 deaths. "Uncounted" is a collaboration between MuckRock, the USA TODAY network and dozens of local newsrooms around the country. We found that short-staffed, undertrained and overworked coroners and medical examiners took families at their word when they called to report the death of a relative at home. Coroners and medical examiners didn’t review medical histories or order tests to look for COVID-19. The result is a skewed picture of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S.