ProPublica

ProPublica is an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. Our work focuses exclusively on truly important stories, stories with “moral force.” We do this by producing journalism that shines a light on exploitation of the weak by the strong and on the failures of those with power to vindicate the trust placed in them.

WTFrack?!

EPA: Chemicals found in Wyo. drinking water might be from fracking

This story was written by ProPublica reporter Abrahm Lustgarten. Federal environment officials investigating drinking water contamination near the ranching town of Pavillion, Wyo., have found that at least three water wells contain a chemical used in the natural gas drilling process of hydraulic fracturing. Scientists also found traces of other contaminants, including oil, gas or metals, in 11 of 39 wells tested there since March. The study, which is being conducted under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program, is the first time the EPA has undertaken its own water analysis in response to complaints of contamination in drilling areas, and …

But is it working?

Surprisingly popular Cash for Clunkers program raises hopes–and questions

This post was written by ProPublica’s Marcus Stern and Jake Bernstein. To supporters, the “cash for clunkers” program miraculously jolted the moribund car market back to life, engendering hopes that it might help revive the broader U.S. economy. Skeptics saw it differently: The automotive industry had hijacked an environmental bill and turned it into a bailout for itself with the help of the Obama administration and a Congress besotted with wishful thinking and a hair-trigger for stimulus spending. Both views may turn out to be correct. But one thing is certain. The sight of car buyers back in showrooms these …

The wrong kind of bubbly

More gas contamination affects Pennsylvania residents

Pennsylvania environment officials are investigating another natural gas well leak, after residents near the town of Roaring Branch complained last month that rust-colored water was flowing from a spring and two small creeks were bubbling with methane gas. The incident is the latest in a string of more than 50 similar cases related to gas drilling in the state, and comes as ProPublica published an article last week reporting that such events were more frequent than officials said. According to the Department of Environmental Protection, at least four homes in the rural north-central part of Lycoming County are now being …

There's a drill in the hole and a hole in the ground and the methane bubbles all around, all around

Water problems from drilling are more frequent than PA officials said

When methane began bubbling out of kitchen taps near a gas drilling site in Pennsylvania last winter, a state regulator described the problem as “an anomaly.” But at the time he made that statement to ProPublica, that same official was investigating a similar case affecting more than a dozen homes near gas wells halfway across the state. In fact, methane related to the natural gas industry has contaminated water wells in at least seven Pennsylvania counties since 2004 and is common enough that the state hired a full-time inspector dedicated to the issue in 2006. In one case, methane was …

what's it wirth to you?

Timothy Wirth, natural-gas advocate, takes gas industry to task

This story was written by ProPublica’s Abrahm Lustgarten. Timothy Wirth.They were tough words for the natural gas industry to hear. In a blunt speech before the Colorado Oil and Gas Association last week, Timothy Wirth, a former Colorado Democratic senator and Under Secretary of State for global affairs in the Clinton administration, warned industry leaders that they need to pay attention to the environmental and climate concerns that are shaping national policy, or risk being left behind. Wirth took the industry to task for not engaging in the climate legislation being debated in Congress — a bill he said every …

From ProPublica

Energy industry sways Congress with misleading data

This story was written by ProPublica’s Adam Lustgarten. The two key arguments that the oil and gas industry is using to fight federal regulation of the natural gas drilling process called hydraulic fracturing — that the costs would cripple their business and that state regulations are already strong — are challenged by the same data and reports the industry is using to bolster its position. One widely-referenced study (PDF) estimated that complying with regulations would cost the oil and gas industry more than $100,000 per gas well. But the figures are based on 10-year-old estimates and list expensive procedures that …

From ProPublica

EPA attorneys criticize Obama nominee

This story was written by ProPublica.org’s Joaquin Sapien. The Obama administration’s nomination of Ignacia Moreno to head the environment division of the Department of Justice is moving quietly through the confirmation process, with hearings expected to begin in the next few weeks. Moreno has worked for the environment division before, during the Clinton administration. But her most recent job — as environmental counsel for General Electric — has raised eyebrows among Environmental Protection Agency attorneys. Before Moreno worked for GE, she spent five years defending other companies in pollution-related lawsuits. Six EPA attorneys interviewed by ProPublica criticized the nomination, but …

FRAC Act

Congress introduces twin bills to control drilling and protect drinking water

ProPublica’s Abrahm Lustgarten reports: In a widely expected move that is sure to draw the ire of the oil and gas industry, Democratic members of Congress today introduced twin bills to amend the Safe Drinking Water Act and give the Environmental Protection Agency authority over the controversial drilling process called hydraulic fracturing. The stand-alone bills in both the House (PDF) and the Senate (PDF) for the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act — dubbed the FRAC Act (PDF) — would also require the energy industry to disclose the chemicals it mixes with the water and sand it pumps underground …

Toxic injections

Industry defends federal loophole for drilling before packed Congressional hearing

Abrahm Lustgarten / ProPublica ProPublica’s Abrahm Lustgarten reports: In a packed and sometimes contentious hearing on Capitol Hill Thursday, representatives of the oil and gas industry and their state regulators vigorously defended the practice of injecting toxic fluids underground without federal regulatory oversight. The House Energy and Minerals subcommittee called the hearing to explore the economic and environmental risks associated with the practice, called hydraulic fracturing, after a string of reports of water contamination related to drilling across the country were reported by ProPublica. Hydraulic fracturing is currently exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act, but both the House and …

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