The Center for Public Integrity has won the National Press Foundation’s 2016 Thomas L. Stokes Award for Best Energy Writing for its investigation into the nation’s worst fossil fuel polluters.
“CPI combined two databases to create a list of the worst of the worst polluters, producing a data-driven investigation exposing government laxity, coal industry indifference and the human toll on workers and communities. Methodically filing 50 state FOIA requests, the Center also unmasked state-level regulatory cutbacks at a time many areas seek to rein in pollution.”
The Center’s exhaustive coverage of energy and environmental issues previously won the Stokes Award in 2011 and 2014.
Honorable mention went to E&E News for “Dead Seas.” NPF judges said it is “a compelling classic explainer that shows how missteps and misjudgments turned the salt lakes of the West into toxic dust bowls.”
The winning entry, “Carbon Wars,” included stories "America’s Super Polluters,” "Get someone up here. We’re all dying" and "State cutbacks, recalcitrance hinder Clean Air Act enforcement."
The authors included Jamie Smith Hopkins, Jim Morris and Jie Jenny Zou. The striking graphic that accompanied the 'Super Polluters' piece was created by Chris Zubak-Skees.
"The project was a remarkable piece of work," said Center CEO John Dunbar. "The combination of the compelling narratives with the enormously useful and popular interactive feature made the package incredibly valuable to those who live in these at-risk communities."
The Center partnered on America’s Super Polluters with Gannett and Weather.com, the latter of which produced a documentary based on the story. The Center partnered on the "Get someone up here. We’re all dying" story with Al Jazeera English, which produced a film version as part of its "Fault Lines" documentary series.
The Stokes Award was established in the spring of 1959 by friends and admirers of the late Thomas L. Stokes, the syndicated Washington columnist on national affairs. It is given annually for the best writing “in the independent spirit of Tom Stokes” on subjects of interest to him, including energy, natural resources and the environment.
This year’s judges were Rod Kuckro, a reporter for Energy & Environment Publishing; Ronnie Greene, Washington enterprise editor for Reuters; and Tom Davidson, senior director at Gannett Product. The judges noted the strength of the 49 entries for the Stokes award this year.
The primary mission of the National Press Foundation is to increase journalists’ knowledge of complex issues in order to improve public understanding. The nonprofit foundation recognizes and encourages excellence in journalism through its awards and programs.