Environmental Impact in Louisiana
West Virginia’s Natural Gas Industry
Investigating One of America’s Greatest Polluters
The Water Crisis in the West
Southeast Louisiana is Disappearing, Quickly
The Challenge of Rebuilding as the Climate Changes
The Hidden Risks of Pumping Waste Underground
Investigating the Impact of the BP Spill
Gas Drilling’s Environmental Threat
Logging shapes the state’s economy and environment. ProPublica, Oregon Public Broadcasting and The Oregonian are teaming up to report on the issues.
Louisiana still hasn’t finished investigating 540 oil spills after Hurricane Katrina. The state is likely leaving millions of dollars in remediation fines on the table — money that environmental groups say they need as storms get stronger.
Louisiana’s Department of Environmental Quality has been accused of protecting the chemical industry it regulates. The agency is facing cutbacks as new plants are slated for communities that already have some of the country’s most toxic air.
In the late 1980s, Louisiana’s governor made environmental protection a priority. He only lasted one term. Now, the state’s Department of Environmental Quality has a reputation for going easy on industry.
Chemical Companies Are Building Their Plants Overseas and Shipping Them Back In. They Still Get State Tax Breaks.
Louisiana attracts chemical companies with one of the country’s most generous tax exemptions. The idea is to bring jobs to the state. Instead, construction often happens offsite, and automation has cut down on the jobs that remain.
Health Officials in “Cancer Alley” Will Study if Living Near a Controversial Chemical Plant Causes Cancer
Louisiana officials will knock on every door within 2.5 kilometers of the only plant in the country that emits chloroprene, which the EPA calls a likely carcinogen. An analysis said the airborne cancer risk near the plant was the highest in the nation.
In St. James Parish, Louisiana, a Taiwanese industrial giant seems likely to be granted a permit to build a billion-dollar plastics plant. Its proposed emissions could triple levels of cancer-causing chemicals in one of the most toxic areas of the U.S.
Countries have called California’s cap-and-trade program the answer to climate change. But it is just as vulnerable to lobbying as any other legislation. The result: The state’s biggest oil and gas companies have actually polluted more since it started.
New EPA Rules Aim to Reduce Toxic Emissions. But Many “Cancer Alley” Chemical Plants Won’t Have to Change.
The proposed rules reducing emissions across the country would not apply to many of Louisiana’s chemical plants. These facilities release tons of dangerous, cancer-causing chemicals like ethylene oxide, and more plants are on the way.
Industrial development usually targets poor communities, but Ascension Parish is one of the richest, and most toxic, places in Louisiana. Some residents say the financial benefits of living there outweigh the risks.
Air quality has improved for decades across the U.S., but Louisiana is backsliding. Our analysis found that a crush of new industrial plants will increase concentrations of cancer-causing chemicals in predominantly black and poor communities.
Decades ago, Mark Schleifstein and his colleagues exposed environmental threats coming out of industrial plants all along the Louisiana section of the Mississippi River. A lot of those plants never went away, and even more are moving in.
Welcome to “Cancer Alley.”
ProPublica and The Times-Picayune and The Advocate investigated the potential cancer-causing toxicity in the air. Using EPA data, public records requests and more, we found that some of the country’s most toxic air will likely get worse.
Data from an EPA model indicates that communities along the lower Mississippi River corridor already face severely elevated cancer risks from industrial activity. Massive new chemical plants are slated to be built there anyway.
PG&E’s rolling blackouts probably don’t eliminate fire risk, and they actually could make responding to fires harder. What they largely do is shift responsibility away from the company.
Internal records from the Bureau of Land Management contradict what its chief told Congress about a plan to ship 200 D.C.-based career staff out West. The plan would weaken the agency, which stands between federal lands and oil, gas and mineral companies.
Documents and interviews show the Media Lab, already under fire for accepting contributions from Jeffrey Epstein, is being investigated for an apparent violation of state environmental regulations. They paused operations after we asked questions.
The emergency threatening part of the world’s largest rainforest is proof that offsets are too risky to count on to cancel out corporate pollution, and that the Amazon needs help without strings attached.
The legislation could affect everything from what paper gets used in state offices to what gets served in California cafeterias.
Natural gas companies have cut down forests and paved over farms on West Virginia private lands, calling it “reasonably necessary” to access subsurface gas they own the rights to. A new ProPublica documentary chronicles the legal battles.
A Dominion Energy lobbyist drafted the resolution and bought meals for its supporters in West Virginia’s legislature. He says there’s nothing unusual about it. The public wasn’t told.
California Legislators Urge Caution, but Greenlight a Plan That Could Lead to the Widespread Use of Forestry Offsets
Influenced by a ProPublica investigation, they emphasized the need for “vigorous and proactive monitoring,” noting concerns long voiced by scientists about the integrity of carbon credits.
A senior official said ProPublica’s recent investigation contributed to questions raised about offsets, which the UN has long supported.
As conflicts continue between West Virginians and the state’s natural gas industry, complex legal cases are helping some residents, but not others.
In a key property rights decision, two West Virginia residents scored a rare victory from the state Supreme Court.
Una Verdad (Aún Más) Inconveniente Por qué los créditos de carbono para preservación forestal podrían ser peores que no tener nada
Las ansias por tener estas compensaciones nos ciegan a los alteros de evidencia crecientes que indican que estas no han entregado los beneficios climáticos prometidos, y que no lo harán.
Those trying to make them work reacted passionately about ProPublica’s investigation, which found they have failed to deliver the climate benefit they promise. Their arguments come up short.
Uma Verdade (Ainda Mais) Inconveniente: Por que créditos de carbono para preservar florestas podem ser pior do que nada
A corrida pela compensação de emissões está nos fazendo fechar os olhos para evidências cada vez maiores de que não tivemos — nem teremos — os benefícios prometidos.
An (Even More) Inconvenient Truth: Why Carbon Credits For Forest Preservation May Be Worse Than Nothing
How the hunger for these offsets is blinding us to the mounting pile of evidence that they haven't — and won't — deliver the environmental benefit they promise
The state’s utility advocate said regulators should not have approved the subsidies for the energy company PSEG.
Regulators voted Thursday to approve subsidies, even though PSEG plants are “financially viable.”
Illinois and New York have approved hundreds of millions of dollars in clean-energy incentives for nuclear power companies. New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland could be next.
Residents Say Natural Gas Production Is Marring West Virginia. And the Legislature Isn’t Doing Anything About It.
Though studies recommended additional protections years ago, lawmakers have not taken action to put them in place. But when residents sued, a Supreme Court justice said it was the Legislature’s job.
For the first time ever, ProPublica and the Gazette-Mail used software to show over 5,000 permitted wells and the pads on which they sit. Here’s what they look like.
The rankings were supposed to ensure that the most dangerous sites remained a priority even as the state gave private companies a bigger role in cleanups. Today, there are nearly 14,000 contamination sites across New Jersey and still no sign of the mandated rankings.
As our investigation detailed, EQT Corp. had been accused of deducting a variety of unacceptable charges from natural gas royalty checks. The company says it wants to “turn over a new leaf” in its relationship with the state’s residents.
A report by a private research company found that U.S. emissions, which amount to one-sixth of the planet's, didn't fall in 2018 but instead skyrocketed. The 3.4 percent jump for 2018, projected by the firm, would be second-largest surge in greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S. since Bill Clinton was president.
The gas rush is upending communities with traffic and noise, reshaping the way the state looks and sounds. Residents are often powerless to stop it.
Dozens of interviews and a review of records show that virtually every aspect of the blaze had been forecast and worried over for years. Every level of government understood the dangers and took few, if any, of the steps needed to prevent catastrophe.
State ethics rules seldom prevent lawmakers from proposing or voting on legislation that affects industries they work for.
Today, many farmers continue to store the waste in open pits despite the millions of dollars in private investment spent and years of research and political promises. The practice grows more hazardous with each hurricane that pounds the state.
How a U.S. law intended to reduce dependence on fossil fuels has unleashed an environmental disaster in Indonesia.
In Bea Nehas, the small plots that homes are built on are in constant jeopardy of being burned to the ground and bulldozed. A sprawling plantation that surrounds the village produces huge volumes of palm oil.
Century-Old West Virginia Leases Yield Paltry Gas Royalties. A Suit Could Cut Others’ Payouts to a Trickle, Too.
Energy giant EQT is challenging a 36-year-old law that gives residents a bigger share of natural gas profits at a time when the industry is flourishing.
Companies are deducting “post-production” costs or creating shell companies to reduce royalty payments. The firms say they have done nothing wrong.
A group backed by Murray Energy has tried to block gas plants in West Virginia. The state Supreme Court rejected arguments against one plant, saying it will help the local economy.
A lawyer who represented new Supreme Court Justice Evan Jenkins is on the legal team representing the natural gas giant Antero. The opposing side asked Jenkins to recuse himself, but he said no.
A federal appeals court has revoked a key approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Now, state regulators are working to change the rules — again — so it can proceed.
“Jobs Alliance,” Funded by Trump Backer, Tries to Block Gas Plants That Would Bring Jobs to West Virginia
Murray Energy, one of the nation’s largest coal producers, is paying for lawyers trying to block natural gas plants that would support a growing industry.
In the wake of hurricanes like Florence, the U.S. government pays to dump truckloads of sand onto eroding beaches, in a cycle that is said to harm ecosystems and disproportionately benefit the rich.
The Energy Department had taken steps to curtail the reach and authority of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. New Mexico’s senators are fighting back.
The storm is pummeling coastal towns that are battling rising sea levels and have been repeatedly bailed out by federal flood insurance.
Potential Insurance Bill From Hurricane Florence Could Take Toll on Wallets Far From North Carolina’s Coast
Insurance companies retreated from some communities amid stronger storms, leaving a “last-resort” plan to fill the growing gap.
The Army Corps of Engineers’ delay in activating a floodway — land designated to take on water — cost millions of dollars in damage to Cairo, Illinois, and surrounding communities in 2011.
When the worst flood in nearly a century hit Cairo, Illinois, in 2011, the Army Corps waited before following an emergency plan designed to save a city of 2,800 people. See how that week unfolded and the delays and indecision that cost millions in avoidable damage.
They want Congress to suspend a move that would limit access to information about facilities and could hinder the panel’s ability to oversee worker health and safety.
A federal judge ruled that Fayette County must allow a natural gas compressor station, saying the federal Natural Gas Act takes precedence over local zoning rules.
The Trump administration defended an order that could be used to withhold information about nuclear facilities from a federal board, but its leader says the action is not consistent with the U.S. Atomic Energy Act.
How One West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Gave Natural Gas a Big Victory and Shortchanged Residents
Justice Beth Walker voted to reopen an already decided case around the time her husband owned stock in a variety of energy companies. And that’s not even why she’s been impeached.
The inquiry will evaluate whether the polluting practice is legal, and whether contractors have proper oversight.
Federal authorities halted work on the massive Mountain Valley Pipeline this month after an appeals court ruled that federal agencies neglected to follow environmental protections.
One Missouri town’s levee saga captures what's wrong with America's approach to controlling rivers.
We ran water through a room-sized river model to show how levees can make flooding worse. Try it yourself.
High levees come at a high cost, often pushing water into communities that can’t afford the same protection. To demonstrate, we built a giant, scientific model of a river with levees — complete with adorable tiny houses.
Millions of lives were at stake. Hillary Clinton was on board. Money poured in. And yet the big aims behind an effort to tackle the plague of third-world cooking fires has produced only modest gains.
A family of chemicals — known as PFAS and responsible for marvels like Teflon and critical to the safety of American military bases — has now emerged as a far greater menace than previously disclosed.
The CDC has quietly published a controversial review of perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, that indicates more people are at risk of drinking contaminated water than previously thought.
West Virginia Paid for a CEO to Go on a Trade Delegation to China. Turns Out, He Was Promoting His Company’s Interests, Too.
An executive accompanied state officials to China for a ceremony with President Donald Trump to sign a landmark deal last year. He also pushed his company’s interests, which the governor said Friday was not acceptable.
A provision of the latest proposed defense spending bill mandates that the Department of Defense address one of its longstanding and dangerous sources of pollution.
Defense contractor Bechtel and the University of California are in the running even though they have run the lab as partners for the last decade and amassed a record of worker health and safety violations.
Get an Inside Look at the Department of Defense’s Struggle to Fix Pollution at More Than 39,000 Sites
For the first time, the Pentagon’s internal database used to track its environmental problems is available to the public.
In my first episode of this PBS Digital Studios show, I dissect why minorities and disadvantaged people will face bigger consequences in a warming world.
The Coal Industry Extracted a Steep Price From West Virginia. Now Natural Gas Is Leading the State Down the Same Path.
“It’s déjà vu for the people who sat here 130 years ago and gave away our coal wealth to big out-of-state companies,” one state senator said. “That’s what we’re about to do again.”
New reports provide an unprecedented look at contaminants leaking from coal ash ponds and landfills. But the chasm between information and environmental protection may deepen thanks to a proposed Trump administration rollback.
By building up their own flood protections, some communities have ensured they would be less affected by future floods, while their neighbors would fare worse.
The effort seeks to undermine federal rules meant to prevent “levee wars” — where communities race to boost their own flood protection at the expense of their neighbors.
A new analysis of government data shows how levee districts that have raised their levees without federal permits would be better protected against future flooding, while those that follow the rules would see extra flooding.
When state regulators tried to get the future president to address a few environmental problems on two golf courses some years ago, little did they know they’d be treated to a multi-year lesson in how he handles regulatory challenges.
Canadian Research Adds to Worry Over an Environmental Threat the Pentagon Has Downplayed for Decades
A study released late last year gives environmental experts a way to quantify how much RDX, a chemical used in military explosives, is spreading into surrounding communities.
An annotated history of the 30-year fight over a single polluted Air Force base.
Unexploded ordnance. Open burns of munitions. Poisoned aquifers. Of all the military’s environmental hazards, the explosive compound RDX may be the greatest threat to America’s health.
Some 300 scientists and environmental protection specialists have departed the agency during the Trump administration.
The most generous charitable deduction in the federal tax code is being manipulated to make big profits — and there’s no sign that Congress has any intention of fixing the problem.
The fate of a rule more than a decade in the making is a microcosm of larger changes afoot.
The explosive compound RDX helped make America a superpower. Now, it’s poisoning the nation’s water and soil.
Even after Hurricane Harvey, the best efforts by Harris County officials to purchase the most flood-prone homes won’t make a dent in the larger problem — worsening flooding, and a buyout program that can’t keep up.
A new account challenges our notion of how the people of Appalachia “acquired civilization and then lost it.”
The disaster-relief agency, under fire after Hurricane Maria, won’t release the plan, even as a comparable document for Hawaii remains public.
Despite concerns about flooding in and around the Addicks and Barker reservoirs, government officials prioritized development.
Fraud. Bribery. Incompetence. The military’s use of contractors adds to a legacy of environmental damage.
After an oil tank in Houston’s Manchester neighborhood caved in, private monitors found levels that far exceeded California’s health guideline
Several experts on climate and resilience talk about the role of government. “Viewed correctly, sensible safeguards are part of freedom, not a retreat from it.”
The recent monster storms have kicked up a fair amount of falsehoods. We talk with a reporter trying to hold on to the facts.
Scientists warn of more and expanding “bull’s-eyes” as Americans build in parts of the country at ever greater risk because of climate change and severe weather.
The water that goes around the spillways is going to have to leave the reservoir somehow — and enter areas surrounding it.
Influential advisers press the Trump administration to subject a draft climate change report to a “red team” review that many scientists decry as misplaced.
The first results in a national effort to better measure the levels of contaminants released through the burning of munitions and their waste show elevated levels of lead, arsenic and other toxins.
Facing Trump’s proposals for cutting programs that help minorities and the poor, Democrats scramble to make up for missed opportunities to protect them.