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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. 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.

BP Agrees to Plead Guilty to Crimes in Gulf Oil Spill

The Justice Department indicts three BP managers for their roles in the Deepwater Horizon disaster and its aftermath. The company also will pay a $4.5 billion fine, the largest ever levied on a corporation.

The Trillion-Gallon Loophole: Lax Rules for Drillers that Inject Pollutants Into the Earth

As the boom in oil and gas drilling sends a surge of waste into underground injection wells, safeguards for disposing of these materials are sometimes being ignored or circumvented.

State-by-State: Underground Injection Wells

Through the Freedom of Information Act, ProPublica collected annual state regulatory summaries for the underground injection of waste that were submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency between late 2007 and late 2010.

New Study: Fluids From Marcellus Shale Likely Seeping Into PA Drinking Water

Researchers show natural fluids are migrating from thousands of feet underground and reaching drinking water supplies, raising concerns that man-made chemicals and waste could do the same.

Polluted Water Fuels a Battle for Answers

For most of the last decade, Rev. David Hudson has pressed regulators to find out whether his town’s water contamination is related to injection wells. He’s still waiting.

An Unseen Leak, Then Boom

Gas seeps from underground injection wells and triggers explosions in a Kansas town.

Whiff of Phenol Spells Trouble

A landmark case in Ohio topples scientific assumptions as wells guaranteed to entrap waste for at least 10,000 years spring a leak in less than 25.

Injection Wells: The Poison Beneath Us

Lax oversight, uncertain science plague program under which industries dump trillions of gallons of waste underground

The New ‘Dallas’: Sex, Scandal and U.S. Energy Policy!

There’s plenty of cheesy drama in the revamped soap. There’s also fracking and frank discussion about energy.

New Study Predicts Frack Fluids Can Migrate to Aquifers Within Years

A new study has raised fresh concerns about the safety of gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale, concluding that fracking chemicals injected into the ground could migrate toward drinking water supplies far more quickly than experts have previously predicted.

Feds File First Criminal Charges Related to BP Gulf Spill

The charges against former BP engineer Kurt Mix are expected to be the first step in an ongoing investigation that could reach into the executive suite.

A Punishment BP Can’t Pay Off

What is missing is a criminal prosecution that holds BP individuals responsible.

So, Is Dimock’s Water Really Safe to Drink?

Preliminary test data appears to complicate the Environmental Protection Agency’s assurances that the water is safe to drink in a Pennsylvania town (EPA said nothing about cause).

Feds Let BP Off Probation Despite Pending Safety Violations

A Justice Department spokesman said BP had addressed 270 serious violations at the Texas City refinery where 15 workers died in an explosion, but the company is still negotiating with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration over hundreds more.

BP Settlement Leaves Most Complex Claims Unresolved

BP has agreed to pay $7.8 billion to compensate Gulf Coast residents damaged in a massive 2010 oil spill, but the company still faces a criminal investigation and a battery of state lawsuits and federal claims

Years After Evidence of Fracking Contamination, EPA to Supply Drinking Water to Homes in Pa. Town

The federal agency announced it would bring tanks of drinking water to four homes in Dimock, Pa.

Fracking Cracks the Public Consciousness in 2011

The year brings a bumper crop of studies, intensifying health concerns, and a landmark development when environmental regulators conclude hydraulic fracturing likely caused groundwater contamination for the first time.

Feds Link Water Contamination to Fracking for the First Time

The EPA’s investigation into water pollution near Pavillion, Wyo., produces landmark findings that could erode arguments used to defend safety of the gas drilling process.

Company Backs out of $45 Million Deal to Buy Troubled Wyoming Gas Field

Legacy Resources reverses its plan to acquire gas assets near Pavillion, Wyom., shortly after the EPA unveiled test results showing water pollution nearby.

EPA Finds Compound Used in Fracking in Wyoming Aquifer

After years of complaints from residents about foul water and health concerns, government investigators have found chemical compounds consistent with those used in natural gas fracking.

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