Abrahm Lustgarten

Senior Reporter

Photo of Abrahm Lustgarten

Abrahm Lustgarten is a senior environmental reporter, with a focus at the intersection of business, climate and energy. He is currently covering changes at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and working on a project about pollution at U.S. Defense sites. His 2015 series examining the causes of water scarcity in the American West, “Killing the Colorado,” was a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting and received the 2016 Keck Futures Initiative Communication Award from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Lustgarten co-produced the 2016 Discovery Channel film “Killing the Colorado,” and has previously worked with PBS Frontline, including on the 2010 documentary “The Spill,” about how BP’s corporate culture of recklessness and profiteering led to the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. That film was nominated for an Emmy. His early investigation into the environmental and economic consequences of fracking was some of the first coverage of the issue, and received the George Polk award for environmental reporting, the National Press Foundation award for best energy writing, a Sigma Delta Chi award and was honored as finalist for the Goldsmith Prize.

Before joining ProPublica in 2008, Lustgarten was a staff writer at Fortune. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Scientific American, Wired, Salon, and Esquire, among other publications. He is the author of two books; “Run to Failure: BP and the Making of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster,” and also “China’s Great Train: Beijing’s Drive West and the Campaign to Remake Tibet,” a project that was funded in part by a grant from the MacArthur Foundation. Lustgarten earned a master’s in journalism from Columbia University in 2003 and a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Cornell.

Feds Warn Residents Near Wyoming Gas Drilling Sites Not to Drink Their Water

The federal government is warning residents in a small Wyoming town with extensive natural gas development not to drink their water, and to use fans and ventilation when showering or washing clothes in order to avoid the risk of an explosion.

New York Senate Passes Temporary Ban on Hydraulic Fracturing

The New York Senate passes a bill intended to temporarily ban hydraulic fracturing. But it might also end up temporarily banning most gas and oil drilling in the state.

Why Gas Leaks Matter in the Hydraulic Fracturing Debate

Methane contamination is a bellwether issue in discussion of the safety of hydraulic fracturing, because where methane goes, other chemicals can go, too.

Drilling Accountability Bill Would Regulate Fracturing Too

A Senate bill aimed at cracking down on oil drillers after the Gulf spill includes a measure to require companies to make public what chemicals they've injected underground in natural gas drilling.

New Documents Show BP Made Little Progress on Alaska Safety Issues From 2001 to 2007

Six years after a scathing 2001 internal review of BP's Alaska operations found that the company wasn't maintaining safety equipment and faced "a fundamental lack of trust" among workers, a follow-up study concluded BP had made little headway in addressing those concerns.

Years of Internal BP Probes Warned That Neglect Could Lead to Accidents

Internal investigations warned BP for years that the company had created a culture of disregard for safety and environmental rules and risked a serious accident if it did not change its ways. While the investigations focuses on BP's Alaska drilling operations, the lessons apply to the Gulf as well.

Whistleblower Sues to Stop Another BP Rig From Operating

A whistleblower has filed a lawsuit trying to halt operations at another BP oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, alleging that the company never reviewed critical engineering designs and is therefore risking another catastrophe.

Congressmen Raised Concerns About BP Safety Before Gulf Oil Spill

In a letter to a BP executive this year, Reps. Henry Waxman and Bart Stupak warned that the company's cost-cutting efforts could jeopardize safety. They cited four recent close calls at BP's operations in Alaska.

Chemicals Meant To Break Up BP Oil Spill Present New Environmental Concerns

Dispersing the oil in the Gulf of Mexico is considered one of the best ways to protect birds and keep the slick offshore. But the dispersants being used contain harmful toxins of their own and can concentrate leftover oil toxins in the water,

BP Had Other Problems in Years Leading to Gulf Spill

BP has found itself at the center of several of the nation's worst oil and gas–related disasters in the last five years. It has been fined for a deadly refinery explosion in Texas, a pipeline leak in Alaska, and for manipulating propane prices.

New York Puts Brakes on Drilling in NYC Watershed, Clears Way for Upstate Wells by Next Spring

State environmental officials said their controversial environmental review of natural gas drilling in New York's Marcellus Shale would not apply to drilling inside New York City's 1,900-square-mile watershed, effectively banning hydrofracturing operations there.

Louisiana Well Blowout Forces Hundreds From Homes

Trouble at a natural gas well contaminates an aquifer near Shreveport, and nearby residents are evacuated after the drilling company says it can't contain well pressure underground. It's unclear what contaminants are involved.

Cabot Oil & Gas's Marcellus Drilling to Slow After PA Environment Officials Order Wells Closed

Pennsylvania has come down hard on a natural gas company whose drilling contaminated drinking water. Houston-based Cabot Oil and Gas must close some wells, pay nearly a quarter million dollars in fines, and permanently provide drinking water to 14 families.

Broad Scope of EPA’s Fracturing Study Raises Ire of Gas Industry

A new EPA study of hydraulic fracturing that has invoked the ire of drilling companies is expected to provide a broad look at the natural gas drilling process, including injection spills, leaks and water contamination incidents.

EPA Launches National Study of Hydraulic Fracturing

The U.S. EPA plans a nationwide study to see if reported water contamination in gas drilling areas is caused by the practice of injecting chemicals and water underground to fracture the gas-bearing rock.The study, hinted at for months, will go over the same ground as a much-criticized 2004 study that found that the practice did not endanger water supplies, even though that study did not test any water.

Natural Gas Drilling: What We Don't Know

State Oil and Gas Regulators Are Spread Too Thin to Do Their Jobs

As the gas drilling industry has boomed nationwide, the number of inspectors looking for violations has not kept pace, with some wells going uninspected for years. The imbalance between drilling growth and regulatory staffing levels could become a crucial factor as lawmakers and the public weigh how much environmental damage to expect in exchange for the benefits brought by the drilling.

New York City Calls for Drilling Ban in Watershed, Rejects State Study

ew York City officials have called for a ban on natural gas drilling within the city’s 2,000-square-mile upstate watershed and urged Albany to withdraw its controversial draft environmental review for drilling across the state.

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