Stories

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

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "environment" ...

  • Frac Sand Fever

    Four stories, together with maps and graphics, detailing the environmental, regulatory and ethical dilemmas that have accompanied a sudden sand-mining boom that has swept across the rural Upper Midwest to supply "frac sand'' for the nation's burgeoning oil and gas hydro-fracking industry.
  • Bill in an Instant

    The American Legislative Exchange Council, better known as ALEC, got lots of attention last year because of the national backlash over its role in pushing “stand your ground” gun legislation. But the secretive ALEC’s main mission is to craft ready-made business-friendly bills for Statehouses across the nation, and it’s had lots of success in states with Republican governors and Legislatures. After a six-month investigation, Star-Ledger reporter Sal Rizzo found ALEC’s bills had reached New Jersey, where Republican Gov. Chris Christie gained a national reputation as a reform-minded chief executive. Rizzo found his biggest legislative proposals for teachers and charter schools -- as well as some budgetary and environmental policies -- appeared to have been drafted by ALEC. In some cases, passages in laws and executive orders matched ALEC model bills word-for-word. Rizzo’s project was groundbreaking, showing New Jersey’s connections for the first time, researching how ALEC operates and explaining concerns about how its influence is growing as it avoids disclosure requirements. From his report, readers learned how this is a new form of lobbying, invisible to the public and free of disclosure requirements.
  • The Fracking Boom: Missing Answers

    Is hydraulic fracking for natural gas safe? That’s one of the big questions surrounding America’s fracking boom. Homeowners with these gas wells literally in their backyards have complained of contaminated drinking water wells and noxious fumes. The natural gas industry has said that except for the occasional accident, fracking is not to blame. The American Petroleum Institute, the trade group for the natural gas industry, says fracking is safe and there’s no proof that the practice causes significant damage to the environment or human health. In our series, NPR decided to investigate the evidence the industry bases its safety claim on, and we found something astonishing. Despite some 200,000 fracked wells, very little data have been collected and few rigorous studies have been done to show whether fracking is safe, or whether it is dangerous. Not by local officials, state officials, universities or federal agencies. Essentially there is a data void on this issue. The type of scientific work that tied lead, tobacco smoke and smog to health problems, or that exonerated vaccines as the cause of autism, has not been done. With its safety claim, the industry is actively misleading the public into believing its practices have been solidly vetted and found untarnished. As we show in our seven part series, this is far from the truth.
  • Loophole Lets Toxic Oil Water Flow Over Indian Land

    NPR obtained internal documents from the Environmental Protection Agency that show that the agency has long been allowing oil companies to release polluted water on an Indian reservation in Wyoming. Millions of gallons of waste are released every month, creating streams of waste which ends up in natural rivers. The federal government banned this kind of dumping in the 1970s, but they made an exception, a loophole for the arid West. States in the West, however, eventually set up their own regulations to prevent this kind of polluting. Indian reservations are regulated only by the EPA, so the practice still happens in places like the Wind River reservation in Wyoming.
  • Football Injuries-The Clay Rush Story

    The serious nature of concussion injuries that are commonly suffered in amateur, collegiate and professional sports is beginning to become clear to the medical and legal community. A fine example of that problem is former Colorado Crush Arena Football Player Clay Rush, who suffered several devastating injuries in professional play, with, what turned out to be woefully insufficient medical oversight. Clay now suffers from a traumatic brain injury and is unemployed. He lives with severe headaches, hyper-sensitivity to his environment, visual issues, dizziness, balance issues, and signs of decreased cognitive abilities. If Clay’s concussion had been managed properly by medical personnel, he would have healed with no lasting symptoms. He could have enjoyed life with his wife and two daughters. Instead, he lives his days in pain. His life has changed drastically, from football stud and family man to a man who struggles with a brain injury every day. We examine the work by his attorneys at the law firm of Fleishman and Shapiro to bring Clay Justice.
  • The Fracking Boom, Missing Answers

    Is hydraulic fracking for natural gas safe? That’s one of the big questions surrounding America’s fracking boom. Homeowners with these gas wells literally in their backyards have complained of contaminated drinking water wells and noxious fumes. The natural gas industry has said that except for the occasional accident, fracking is not to blame. The American Petroleum Institute, the trade group for the natural gas industry, says fracking is safe and there’s no proof that the practice causes significant damage to the environment or human health. In our series, NPR decided to investigate the evidence the industry bases its safety claim on, and we found something astonishing. Despite some 200,000 fracked wells, very little data have been collected and few rigorous studies have been done to show whether fracking is safe, or whether it is dangerous. Not by local officials, state officials, universities or federal agencies. Essentially there is a data void on this issue. The type of scientific work that tied lead, tobacco smoke and smog to health problems, or that exonerated vaccines as the cause of autism, has not been done. With its safety claim, the industry is actively misleading the public into believing its practices have been solidly vetted and found untarnished. As we show in our seven part series, this is far from the truth.
  • Hard Labor

    “Hard Labor” exposed the threats facing America’s invisible backbone – steelworkers, coal miners, fishermen, farmworkers and factory technicians, whose sweat equity helps buildings rise from the ground, crops travel from the fields to dinner plates, and the economy hum. Across the U.S., across scores of blue-collar industries, workers are being injured and killed by the thousands with little protection from Congress and the federal agencies that are supposed to safeguard them: the Department of Labor, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Coast Guard.
  • Data analysis of drilling regulation and enforcement

    When officials from Texas to the White House made claims about regulating the country's oil and gas boom, EnergyWire decided to check them out. The online publication used public record requests and data analysis to show that industry uses toxic chemicals more often than it lets on, that the database disclosing those chemicals is riddled with holes and officials often don't use their strongest penalties on health and environmental violators.
  • Green Inc., Environmentalism for Profit

    With the groundbreaking series Green Inc., USA Today for the first time uncovers the truth behind the soaring movement toward constructing buildings that are certified as environmentally friendly. The series shows how "green" buildings often are barely different from their supposedly conventional counterparts -- except that green-building designers and owners often win huge tax breaks, zoning waivers and other valuable perks from government agencies. The series involves an unprecedented analysis of records for 7,100 green-certified buildings to show how the designers follow the easiest and cheapest steps to get certified. Numerous freedom-of-information requests revealed the enormous tax breaks awards to the building designers and owners, and also show how some buildings are falling far short of their environmental promise.
  • Frac sand mining booms in Wisconsin

    An ongoing series looking at the recent growth in Wisconsin’s sand mining industry to meet the increased demand from oil and gas drillers. The frac sand industry has created jobs and economic development in Western Wisconsin, but many residents worry that the industry is not properly regulated. Concerns remain about the impact of the mining on human and environmental health, transportation, and land use.