U.K. freedom-of-information rules promise access to crucial enviro data

In sharp contrast to America’s growing number of terror-inspired no-right-to-know rules restricting citizens’ access to government info crucial to environmental health and safety, new rules in Britain that took effect Jan. 1 are intended to do just the opposite (no, not incite terrorism): ensure citizens’ access to information about their environment. The new freedom-of-information rules also cover some private companies’ records, especially concerning emissions data. Friends of the Earth U.K. has already submitted 60 requests for information on subjects ranging from the dangers of genetically modified crops to land contaminated by the military to the government’s support of a massive oil pipeline reaching from Azerbaijan to Turkey. Says David Cowdrey of the World Wildlife Fund, “We are planning to use the legislation to get specific information about emissions trading, subsidies to the energy sector, and to find out precisely what chemicals are being used in which products.” As they say, sunshine is the best detoxicant.