“Big Oil, Bad Air”, an investigation of toxic air emissions in Texas shale fields by the Center for Public Integrity, InsideClimate News and the Weather Channel, has won the Knight-Risser Prize for Western Environmental Journalism.
The project spanned 20 months and helped lead to the installation of a new air monitor in one of the heaviest drilling areas in the state. In addition, Pennsylvania Congressman Matthew Cartwright launched an investigation late last year into how his state regulates the discarding of unwanted, often toxic material.
The authors “did a great job of making clear that the questions residents and homeowners have about their own health is just not a priority for the state, which just keeps saying 'Go, go, go' to more oil development,” said contest judge Craig Welch, an environmental writer for National Geographic and co-winner of the 2014 Knight-Risser Prize. “The West needs more deep-dive environmental journalism like this.”
CBC news reporter Duncan McCue, another contest judge, added that “the impacts of rapidly expanded fracking is very much a story for our times.”