A Center for Public Integrity collaboration with InsideClimate News and The Weather Channel exploring the toxic air emissions in the Eagle Ford Shale region of South Texas has been awarded first place in the Association of Health Care Journalists Investigative (Large) category.
The Big Oil, Bad Air series focused on the epicenter of the nation’s hydraulic fracturing - fracking - boom. Drilling in the Eagle Ford Shale has generated billions of dollars for oil companies but also air pollution that threatens public health.
The series found that residents in drilling areas blame these emissions for making them sick, and that industry-friendly state regulators offer little help. It showed how Texas has weakened air pollution guidelines to industry’s benefit. Texas eventually installed a new air monitor in the heart of the Eagle Ford Shale after the series revealed the scope and seriousness of residents’ complaints.
“Big Oil, Bad Air” was the product of a three-way, 20-month investigative reporting partnership with InsideClimate News and The Weather Channel. AHCJ judges said the series stood out for its “penetrating reporting, eloquent writing and disturbing findings.” They noted that while much reporting has focused on contaminated drinking water caused by fracking, “This series focused instead on airborne pollutants that have harmed the health and destroyed the wellbeing of rural families in the vast Eagle Ford region of Texas.”