Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

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Search results for "Natural resources" ...

  • Rare Earth Elements

    The U.S. began the march toward the use of rare Earth metals - essential ingredients in everything from smart phones and computers to cars and missiles - but has left most of their mining and processing to others. China now dominates this crucial industry, which worries the U.S. government.
  • The Global Crisis of Vanishing Groundwater

    The historic agreement reached in Paris in December that will curb carbon emissions is heartening, but oil isn’t the only resource being pumped out of the ground at an alarming rate—with catastrophic consequences for the planet. In an eye-opening series for USA Today, The Desert Sun of Palm Springs, CA, and other Gannett newspapers, Pulitzer Center grantees Ian James and Steve Elfers investigate the consequences of groundwater depletion, an overlooked global crisis. “Groundwater is disappearing beneath cornfields in Kansas, rice paddies in India, asparagus farms in Peru and orange groves in Morocco,” writes Ian. “As these critical water reserves are pumped beyond their limits, the threats are mounting for people who depend on aquifers to supply agriculture, sustain economies and provide drinking water. In some areas, fields have already turned to dust and farmers are struggling.” Climate change will only exacerbate the crisis, yet few seem to be taking this existential threat seriously. “Even as satellite measurements have revealed the problem’s severity on a global scale, many regions have failed to adequately address the problem,” says Ian. “Aquifers largely remain unmanaged and unregulated, and water that seeped underground over tens of thousands of years is being gradually used up.”
  • The War Over Continental Shelves

    Around the Korean peninsular, there are huge continental shelves which potentially possess excess amounts of valuable and natural resources such as gas and oil. In the Joint Development Zone, Korean and Japanese governments acquiesced to share this territory. Despite the agreement between Korea and Japan to develop underwater resources of the region jointly, skeptics have suspicions that when the treaty expires in 2028, the entire zone will become Japan's.
  • Deep Inside the Wild World of China’s Fracking Boom

    Mother Jones' Jaeah Lee and Climate Desk's James West traveled to central China and uncovered alarming trends with global consequences. The duo reveals how as China, as it aims to wean itself from coal, has called on multinational oil and gas giants to help tap into its vast natural gas resources. As fracking technology crosses over from the fields of Pennsylvania to the mountains of Sichuan, so have questions about its risks and consequences. The practice, which has been linked to contaminated water, methane leaks, and earthquakes in the United States, may pose greater risks in China, given what one expert describes as a "pollute first, clean up later" mentality. Their yearlong investigation includes a five-part video series complete with data visualizations and charts, expert and insider perspectives, and rich, on-the-ground documentary footage.
  • Logging and Landslides

    After a landslide killed 43 in the town of Oso, Washington, our KUOW investigation found that Washington state's department of natural resources had allowed clear-cutting on sensitive ground that, by law, should have been protected from logging to avoid triggering a slide above Oso. We also documented the agency head's broken vow not to take campaign contributions from the timber industry he regulates.
  • China in Africa: How Sam Pa became The Middleman

    FT correspondent Tom Burgis in 2014 examined the case of one deal-maker - a mysterious man from Hong Kong known as Sam Pa - to explain and explore the ambitions behind the China-Africa connection. The trail of reporting began in 2009 as Mr. Burgis, then the FT's West Africa correspondent, revealed the details of a deal between an obscure Chinese company named China International Fund and the murderous junta that had seized power in the long-suffering nation of Guinea.
  • Jacuí - Crime and Agony

    Illegal Dredging practiced in Rio Jacuí between Porto Alegre and Rio Pardo proves the inefficiency of environmental agencies in protecting the natural resources of the State. During the journalistic investigation, 19 flagrant vessels not comply the terms of the Operating Licenses (LO), issued by the State Environmental Protection Foundation (Fepam) were performed. The main crime is the removal of sand on forbidden places in licensed areas, disobeying, for example, the minimum of 50 meters away from the shores and causing terrible environmental damage.
  • Platts: Russian Gas Giant Mines U.S. Energy Data

    Russia’s state-owned natural gas company says the U.S. shale-gas boom is economically unsustainable — and it’s buttressing its claim with financial data collected by an American consulting firm located less than 20 miles from the White House. Moscow-based Gazprom, the world’s largest gas company, is working with Pace Global Energy Services, a consulting firm in Fairfax, Virginia, to analyze how much money U.S. gas companies are spending on hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. Gazprom, citing the Virginia company’s data, says the true costs of U.S. shale-gas production are upwards of 150% higher than the revenues its practitioners have been reaping in the last few years. Gazprom says this will ultimately lead to the demise of fracking-based shale-gas drilling in the US and other countries that are considering adopting it. But Gazprom’s critics say the company and its unlikely Washington-area ally are spreading “myths and misconceptions” about the U.S.-led shale-gas gas boom so that European and Asian countries will not develop their own shale plays, and will instead continue to buy conventional Russian gas.
  • Platts: Oil and Gas Drillers Want ‘Confidential’ Wells

    It’s no secret that oil and natural gas production is booming in North Dakota. But there are indeed countless secrets — technical, strategic and otherwise — associated with many of the wells that are being drilled in the Roughrider State. North Dakota maintains something called a “Confidential Well List.” Under state law, certain information about the 1,800-plus wells on this list -- such as production levels, geographical data and engineering specifications – is kept from the public for six months. North Dakota regulators argue that there are legitimate reasons for keeping this data from the public, such as encouraging so-called “wildcat” drilling operations in remote or undeveloped areas where little or nothing is known about the subsurface geology. But other oil and gas-producing states are sharply curtaining their use of such policies, saying they are outdated and conflict with the principles of open government. Wyoming, for example, recently revised its policy on the grounds that granting confidential status without good reason was inhibiting “the timely dissemination of well information to the public.”
  • Platts: The Ugly Side of the U.S. Oil and Gas Boom

    There is a nasty and ugly side to the oil and natural gas boom that the U.S. has enjoyed in recent years — a side that involves allegations of fraud, breach of contract and taking advantage of poor or unsophisticated landowners, among other things. This story is significant because these incidents are seldom reported, as the landowners, energy companies and other stakeholders have little to gain and a lot to lose by talking to journalists. But I managed to pull back the curtain on these little-known conflicts by piecing together court files and by interviewing key players, including a woman who could have been sued for “commercial defamation” for talking to me. Through these hard-to-get interviews and court documents, my story paints a colorful and sometimes disturbing portrait of the growing number of conflicts between landowners and the oil and natural gas companies that drill on their lands.