Mark Olalde is a reporter covering the environment in the Southwest. Before joining ProPublica, he wrote for The Desert Sun, The Arizona Republic and the Center for Public Integrity. His investigations, which have taken him to numerous countries, have also been published in the Los Angeles Times, High Country News, USA Today and international outlets. Olalde's coverage of hidden cleanup liabilities in California's oilfields earned him the 2020 Stokes Award. His work on South Africa's abandoned mines prompted a parliamentary investigation and saw him recognized in 2017 as the country's top print reporter covering the environment.
J.B. Hamby, California’s representative in talks about sharing water from the Colorado River, holds the keys to a quarter of the river’s flow — and its future.
Western States Opposed Tribes’ Access to the Colorado River 70 Years Ago. History Is Repeating Itself.
Records unearthed by a University of Virginia professor shed new light on states’ vocal opposition in the 1950s to tribes claiming their share of the river. Today, many are still fighting to secure water.
“A Setup for Disaster”: California Legislation Requiring Companies to Pay for Oil and Gas Well Cleanup in Limbo
The bill, which awaits a decision by Gov. Gavin Newsom, follows ProPublica’s reporting on the multibillion-dollar cost to clean up California’s oil and gas industry and the exodus of major companies shifting ownership of thousands of aging wells.
The Colorado River Flooded Chemehuevi Land. Decades Later, the Tribe Still Struggles to Take Its Share of Water.
The Chemehuevi’s reservation fronts about 30 miles of the Colorado River, yet 97% of the tribe’s water stays in the river, much of it used by Southern California cities. The tribe isn’t paid for it.
Decades of negotiations between the tribe and Arizona over water rights have proven fruitless. The court case was the Navajo Nation’s bid to accelerate the process and secure water for its reservation.
As it negotiates water rights with tribes, Arizona goes to unique lengths to extract concessions that limit tribes’ opportunities for growth and economic development, according to a ProPublica and High Country News investigation.
Drought-plagued Nevada pledged to do away with 3,900 acres of grass in the Las Vegas area within six years, but a ProPublica analysis found that the state grossly overestimated how much of that grass would likely be removed.
It Will Cost Up to $21.5 Billion to Clean Up California’s Oil Sites. The Industry Won’t Make Enough Money to Pay for It.
An expert used California regulators’ methodology to estimate the cost of cleaning up the state’s onshore oil and gas industry. The study found that cleanup costs will be triple the industry’s projected profits.
For the first time, ProPublica has cataloged cleanup efforts at the 50-plus sites where uranium was processed to fuel the nation’s nuclear arsenal. Even after regulators say cleanup is complete, polluted water and sickness are often left behind.
Shell and ExxonMobil are selling their California wells despite oil selling at high prices. Experts say one reason is looming liability for environmental cleanup.
Time and again, mining company Homestake and government agencies promised to clean up waste from decades of uranium processing. It didn’t happen. Now they’re trying a new tactic: buying out homeowners to avoid finishing the job.
Across the country, companies have been handing off uranium mills and disposal sites to the federal government. ProPublica wants to understand the process from all sides.
The nation’s fastest-growing and second-driest state had a banner year for water conservation as it plays catch-up to the rest of the West.
In a Q&A with ProPublica, experts describe how a new climate reality threatens the Southwest, the fastest-growing region in the U.S.
Utah has some of the highest per-capita water use and is the fastest-growing state. Yet a powerful group that steers Utah’s water policy keeps pushing for costly infrastructure over meaningful conservation efforts.