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 "oil and gas industry" ...

  • Dark Side of the Boom: How Dangerous Is Too Dangerous?

    In a multi-part radio and web series, Rocky Mountain PBS explored the oil and gas industry’s culture of risk-taking, asked why action has not been taken in North Dakota to lower the high fatality rate, and looked to other dangerous industries and states, past and present, for potential solutions.
  • Inside Energy: Dark Side Of The Boom: Workplace Fatalities In Oil And Gas

    It’s no great surprise that the oil and gas industry is dangerous—but just how dangerous? And how bad does it have to get before regulators and elected officials step in and do something? Those questions were the jumping-off point for this four-part radio series (and multi-part web series) about oil and gas worker deaths. Using original data analysis, we compared the oil and gas industry in different states and with other dangerous industries. We then examined ways to make a dangerous industry safer.
  • Blowouts, leaks and spills from the drilling boom

    The oil and gas industry doesn't like to talk about its environment and safety record beyond bland assertions that safety is a top goal. But drillers cause more than 6,000 spills each year. Until our investigation, no one had put a figure on it. The records are scattered amid databases, websites and even file drawers of state agencies across the country. EnergyWire spent four months assembling the data for the most comprehensive report yet on the spills that flow from the nation's oil and gas boom.
  • Injection Wells - The Hidden Risks of Pumping Waste Underground

    Over the last several decades, U.S. industries have dumped more than 30 trillion gallons of toxic waste – a volume roughly four times that of Utah’s Great Salt Lake -- into injection wells deep beneath the earth’s surface. These wells epitomize the notion of out of sight, out of mind, entombing chemicals too dangerous to discard in rivers or soil. The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for overseeing this invisible disposal system, setting standards that, above all, are supposed to safeguard sources of drinking water at a time when water has become increasingly precious. Abrahm Lustgarten’s series, “Injection Wells: the Hidden Risks of Pumping Waste Underground,” lays out in frightening detail just how far short regulators have fallen in carrying out that mission. His analysis of hundreds of thousands of inspection records showed that wells often fail mechanical integrity tests meant to ensure contaminants aren’t leaking into water supplies and that companies repeatedly violate basic rules for safe disposal. EPA efforts to strengthen regulation of underground injection have been stymied time and again by the oil and gas industry, among the primary users of disposal wells. As the number of wells for drilling waste has grown to more than 150,000 nationwide, regulators haven’t kept pace, leaving gaps that have led to catastrophic breakdowns. And Lustgarten’s most surprising finding was that the EPA has knowingly permitted the energy industry to pollute underground reservoirs, handing out more than 1,500 “exemptions” allowing companies to inject waste and other chemicals into drinking water aquifers.
  • Buying the Election

    “Never Mind the Super PACs: How Big Business Is Buying the Election” investigates previously unreported ways that businesses have taken advantage of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which overturned a century of campaign finance law and allowed corporations to spend directly on behalf of candidates. The piece debunks a common misperception that businesses have taken advantage of their new political spending powers primarily through so-called Super PACs. In fact, most Super PAC donations have come from extremely wealthy individuals, not corporations. The investigation shows how corporations have instead used a variety of 501(c) nonprofits, primarily 501(c)(6) “trade associations,” to direct substantial corporate money on federal elections. As one prominent advisor to GOP candidates as well as corporations points out, "many corporations will not risk running ads on their own," for fear of the reputational damage, but the trade groups make these ad buys nearly anonymous. In 2010, 501(c)(6) trade associations and 501(c)(4) issue-advocacy groups outspent Super PACs $141 million to $65 million. The investigation shows that the growth of trade association political spending has had a number of significant ramifications, such as increased leverage during beltway lobbying campaigns. Most troublingly, legal loopholes allow foreign interests to use trade associations to directly influence American elections. One of the most significant revelations in the piece was that the American Petroleum Institute, a trade association for the oil and gas industry, had funneled corporate cash to groups that had run hard-hitting campaign ads while being led in part by a lobbyist for the Saudi Arabian government, Tofiq Al-Gabsani. As an API board member, Al-Gabsani was part of the team that directed these efforts, which helped defeat candidates who supported legislation that would move American energy policy away from its focus on fossil fuels. Federal law prevents Al-Gabsani, as a foreign national, from leading a political action committee, or PAC. But nothing in the law stopped him from leading a trade group that made campaign expenditures just as a PAC would.
  • Secret Spills?

    The investigation exposed a disturbing secret about the oil and gas industry: spills, leaks, fires, explosions and emissions that are putting lives at risk, polluting the air, contaminating drinking water, destroying land, causing injuries and even death are happening all the time, nearly everyday in the U.S., and no one is keeping track.
  • Royalty-In-Kind Invesgation

    The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) has been investigating federal royalty collections since 1995. Oil and gas royalty collections make up the second largest source or government revenue, but throughout POGO's investigations, there have been many concerns as to whether the federal government is collecting all of the money that oil and gas companies owe to taxpayers for drilling on federal lands. Based upon talking to insiders with the Department of the Interior (DOI), POGO conducted the first study to link the management problems that plague the agency with the structural design of the Royalty-in-Kind (RIK) program, as advocated by the oil and gas industry. This series of stories investigated royalty collection at DOI, with a sharp focus on the Minerals Management Service (MMS) and their management of Royalty-In-Kind program. The series found that not only did MMS have an overly close relationship with the industry that they were supposed to be overseeing, but that industry influence had been pervasive and could be traced from the program's inception through its expansion into the full-blown program that exists today. Additionally, the series of stories found that there are extensive inappropriate auditing of royalty payments between MMS employees and the oil and gas industry, insufficient auditing of royalty payments, serious mismanagement of the RIK program, and a debilitating lack of transparency in the program. These findings call the legitimacy of the RIK program into question, and particularly raise questions as to whether this program can effectively pursue royalty collection on behalf of taxpayers.
  • Death in the Energy Fields

    This story investigates the underreported fatalies and accidents in the oil and gas industry. The oil and gas industry is "it's own subculture, out of the mainstream; it operates in high rural areas; it's a hugely profitable industry that directly or indirectly controls communities and states, so questions are not raised and concerns are buried. And the victims - the workers and their next of kin - are not well equipped to stand up for worker safety."
  • Networks of Influence

    This investigation revealed the communication industry has spent $1.1 billion since 1998 to obtain political influence--more than twice a much as the oil and gas industry spent. Money spent on supporting candidates, lobbying, junkets and the practice of government officials leaving their jobs to work for the industries they used to regulate were all scrutinized. While broadcasters usually spent and equal amount of money supporting republicans and democrats, Sinclair Broadcasting Group spent more than 95% on republicans only. Detailed graphs included make the story easy to understand.
  • How Federal Policies, Industry Shifts Created A Natural Gas Crunch

    The Journal reports that federal efforts to promote clean air have fed a surge in demand for natural gas, but the shape of the domestic oil and gas industry have sharply curtailed U.S. oil and gas exploration, bringing little new gas into the pipeline. The story reveals that as production lags, gas consumption, fueled by gas-fired power plants and a hot economy, is climbing fast. Imports are struggling to fill the gap.