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 "regulation" ...

  • The Dilbit Disaster

    The 10 stories we’ve submitted expose serious flaws in federal and state regulations that are supposed to ensure the safety of the nation’s oil pipelines. These flaws are of particular concern right now, because the regulations are setting the standards for thousands of miles of new pipelines that are being built or repurposed to carry heavy crude oil from Canada’s tar sands region. U.S. imports of this type of oil, which is turned into a fuel known as dilbit, are expected to quadruple in the coming decade. The core of our reporting is a three-part narrative about a 2010 pipeline accident in Michigan, “The Dilbit Disaster: Inside The Biggest Oil Spill You’ve Never Heard Of,” which also appeared as an e-book. In the other stories that appeared during our 15-month investigation, we applied what we learned from that disaster to the proposed pipeline projects, including the Keystone XL and the replacement of the Michigan pipeline that ruptured in 2010.
  • Lacking regulation, many medical apps questionable at best

    The story investigated 1,500 health apps sold on the iTunes and Google Play stores and uncovered hundreds of apps that claimed to cure or help disease, despite no medical evidence that these treatments would work. It disclosed that one out of five apps claimed to treat or cure medical problems - exactly the sorts of apps that the FDA is arguing should be regulated. It was reported and written by NECIR reporter Rochelle Sharpe and published in the Washington Post and on the NECIR website.
  • Hansen Files-Supplements

    Dateline NBC exposed how unsafe practices in the booming dietary supplements industry – and lax government regulation – are allowing poisonous products to reach store shelves. Digging deep into government records, product recalls, criminal counterfeiting cases, plus state and federal civil court files, Dateline documented actual examples of dangerous products and falsified test results. In one case, workers at U.S. supplement maker used five-gallon buckets and women’s pantyhose in an attempt to filter suspicious black flecks out of a liquid vitamin supplement bound for retail stores – including GNC. Dateline’s investigation didn’t stop at reviewing records. In a hidden camera sting, Dateline exposed so-called “dry-labbing” – the practice of certifying products without really testing them. Dateline set up its own supplement company, created sample products, deliberately spiked them with poisons, and then hired labs to test them. One lab specializing in supplements missed every poison – and told correspondent Chris Hansen the dangerous products were safe to sell. In spite of these documented threats to public health, federal officials acknowledged that labs that test dietary supplements are neither licensed nor inspected.
  • Campaign 2012 - Revealing Dark Money and Big Data

    The 2012 elections were marked by two major new developments. Anonymous money poured into races on an unprecedented scale. And campaigns used troves of data that people previously considered confidential to “micro-target” voters. Our goal was to shine a light on these tactics, using old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting, public records and innovative computer applications. Throughout the year, our series, “Campaign 2012: Revealing Dark Money and Big Data,” showed readers how groups and campaigns exploited everything from loopholes in federal regulations to Internet surfing habits to win votes.
  • 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.
  • ICIJ: Plunder in the Pacific

    "Plunder in the Pacific," an eight-country investigation, revealed how Asian, European and Latin American fleets have devastated what was once one of the world’s great fish stocks. Jack mackerel in the South Pacific has decreased from around 30 million tons to less than three tons in just two decades. We found that national interests and geopolitical rivalry for six years blocked efforts to ratify a regional fisheries management organization that could impose binding regulations to rescue jack mackerel from further collapse. Bound only by voluntary restrictions, fleets competed in what amounted to a free-for-all in no man’s water.
  • 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.
  • The problems with study abroad

    The study abroad program at the University of Georgia is a huge one, with more than 25 percent of the student population going on one of the many programs during their time at UGA. But the regulation of study abroad at the University of Georgia – whether it's academics, safety of the students, proper use of professors' time – is sorely lacking. This year-long series looks at the problems that exist and continue to exist for a program UGA administrators like to tout as one of their big successes.
  • 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.
  • StarTribune: Discipline Deferred

    A six-month investigation by the Star Tribune found that the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice, once considered a national leader in the regulation of licensed physicians, often doesn’t punish doctors whose mistakes harm patients or who demonstrate a pattern of substandard care. After analyzing information compiled by a national databank and reviewing thousands of pages of court and medical board records, the reporters found that the board, which regulates 20,000 physicians in the state, has been reluctant to punish some doctors who have harmed patients, including more than 100 doctors who were disciplined by other states and even doctors who lost privileges to practice at Minnesota hospitals. The investigation also showed that the board lags behind boards in other states in disclosing information to the public, including data on malpractice judgments or settlements. It also doesn’t disclose whether doctors have been disciplined by regulators in other states or lost their privileges to work in hospitals and other facilities for surgical mistakes and other problems.