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Abrahm Lustgarten

Reporter

Photo of Abrahm Lustgarten

Abrahm Lustgarten is a senior environmental reporter, with a focus at the intersection of business, climate and energy. 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.

End of the Miracle Machines: Inside the Power Plant Fueling America's Drought

The Navajo Generating Station helps move trillions of gallons of water over mountains, through canals, 336 miles into Phoenix and Tucson. But it comes at an enormous cost.

Use It or Lose It: Across the West, Exercising One’s Right to Waste Water

“Use it or lose it” clauses give farmers, ranchers and governments holding water rights a powerful incentive to use more water than they need.

Use It or Lose It: Across the West, Exercising One’s Right to Waste Water

“Use it or lose it” clauses give farmers, ranchers and governments holding water rights a powerful incentive to use more water than they need.

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, While Water Supplies Last

How 40 years of unchecked growth may eventually bust Las Vegas’ water supply.

The ‘Water Witch’: Pat Mulroy Preached Conservation While Backing Growth in Las Vegas

Despite Pat Mulroy's conservation bona fides, Las Vegas' former water chief put the city's expansion above all else. Did she push Vegas past its limits? “I've had it right up to here with all this ‘Stop your growth,’” she says.

The ‘Water Witch’: Pat Mulroy Preached Conservation While Backing Growth in Las Vegas

Despite Pat Mulroy's conservation bona fides, Las Vegas' former water chief put the city's expansion above all else. Did she push Vegas past its limits? “I've had it right up to here with all this ‘Stop your growth,’” she says.

What You Need to Know About the Water Crisis in the West

What led to the West's historic water crisis? What can be done to preserve the Colorado River? ProPublica explores the situation, at a glance.

Holy Crop: How Federal Dollars Are Financing the Water Crisis in the West

The federal subsidies that prop up cotton farming in Arizona are just one of myriad ways policymakers have refused to reshape laws to reflect water shortages throughout the Colorado River Basin states.

Holy Crop: How Federal Dollars Are Financing the Water Crisis in the West

The federal subsidies that prop up cotton farming in Arizona are just one of myriad ways policymakers have refused to reshape laws to reflect water shortages throughout the Colorado River Basin states.

Killing the Colorado: Explore the River

How the Colorado was turned into a giant plumbing system.

Progress and Controversy Arrive With New Rules for Fracking on Public Lands

An initial review of rules issued by the Interior Department shows the federal government has taken important steps to protect drinking water resources, while not adopting the strictest regulations in place in some states.

New York State Bans Fracking

After years of delays and debate, Gov. Andrew Cuomo decides risks outweigh rewards.

New York's Gas Rush Poses Environmental Threat

Chesapeake Energy Faces Subpoena on Royalty Payment Practices

The Justice Department's inquiry comes after a ProPublica investigation and years of complaints from landowners who say they have been underpaid for leasing land to the energy giant for drilling.

California Halts Injection of Fracking Waste, Warning it May Be Contaminating Aquifers

State’s drought has forced farmers to rely on groundwater, even as California aquifers have been intentionally polluted due to exemptions for oil industry.

Chesapeake Energy’s $5 Billion Shuffle

The energy giant raised the cash it needed to survive by slashing royalties it paid property owners to drill on their land.

Unfair Share: How Oil and Gas Drillers Avoid Paying Royalties

Income from oil and gas production doesn’t always trickle down to landowners, as companies find ways to minimize the share they pay in royalties.

EPA’s Abandoned Wyoming Fracking Study One Retreat of Many

When the Environmental Protection Agency abruptly retreated on its investigation into water contamination in a central Wyoming natural gas field recently, it shocked environmentalists and energy industry supporters alike. Industry advocates see the EPA’s turnabout as an overdue recognition that it had over-reached on fracking. Environmentalists see an agency systematically disengaging from any research into the safety of drilling.

After a Powerful Lobbyist Intervenes, EPA Reverses Stance on Polluting Texas County’s Water

The EPA changed its stance on an aquifer exemption needed for a uranium mining project in Goliad County, Texas, after prominent Democratic lobbyist Heather Podesta made entreaties to one of its top administrators

Land Grab Cheats North Dakota Tribes Out of $1 Billion, Suits Allege

Native Americans on an oil-rich reservation have been cheated out of more than $1 billion by schemes to buy drilling rights for lowball prices — and the federal government failed in its legal obligation to ensure a fair deal, lawsuits claim.

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