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2015 Topical Reporting, Small Newsroom finalist

Energy, Environment, Economy

About the Project

StateImpact Pennsylvania is the go-to source for fracking news in the region. Started initially with the help of NPR in 2011, the site is now staffed with two reporters and a part-time freelancer who cover the environmental, economic and political impact of energy with a focus on Marcellus Shale natural gas development. The multi-platform site includes investigative audio and video stories, interactive maps and explanatory articles on energy topics from oil trains to water contamination to Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

While covering the day-to-day beat of energy in Pennsylvania, Susan Phillips, Marie Cusick and Katie Colaneri (and most recently we added a freelance writer Jon Hurdle) also produce in-depth, investigative radio pieces that have helped influence policy and add new information to discussions over taxing Marcellus Shale, creating new regulations, and handling health complaints.

Every six months, our shale gas drilling map app gets updated with new information from the state Department of Environmental Protection, where users can easily access data on all Marcellus Shale wells across Pennsylvania, including the operator of the well, violations and fines.

The site has won several Edward R. Murrow awards, as well as an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia award that recognized both the audio and the online components.

In 2014, StateImpact revealed a policy at the Department of Health that instructed workers not to respond to fracking health complaints. A series of reports led to a change in policy at the health department and new protocols for answering resident’s questions about shale gas drilling. StateImpact also detailed efforts by leaseholders to fight for their royalty checks, which were being held and short-changed by Chesapeake Energy.

The project also works to be the honest broker when it comes to the sometimes confusing and contradictory science over fracking, and its connection to water contamination, public health and climate change.