Pulitzer winning climate news

Lisa Song

Lisa Song joined InsideClimate News in January 2011, where she reports on oil sands, pipeline safety and natural gas drilling. She helped write "The Dilbit Disaster" series, which won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting, was a finalist in the 2012 Scripps Howard Awards for Environmental Reporting and won an honorable mention in the 2012 John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism. She previously worked as a freelancer, contributing to High Country News, Scientific American and New Scientist. Song has degrees in environmental science and science writing from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

You can reach her by email at lisa.song@insideclimatenews.org.

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Articles

Most Extreme Weather Has Climate Change Link, Study Says

Global warming has created a 'new normal,' scientists say, and the old hesitance to attribute extreme weather to climate change is outdated.

Jun 23, 2015

In the wake of major hurricanes, floods and heat waves, scientists are quick to say that no single weather event can be attributed to climate change until careful analysis draws that conclusion. Now, a new study argues that thinking is backwards, that all extreme weather has a link to climate change.

The default position has been holding science back in connecting weather and climate, concludes the authors of a peer-reviewed paper published Monday in Nature Climate Change.

Weeks After Texas Oil Well Explosion, Families Still Can't Go Home

Three weeks after well explosion, families are still waiting and worrying as Canadian oil company Encana decontaminates their homes in Karnes County.

Jun 9, 2015

Several families remain displaced three weeks after an oil well exploded in Karnes County, Texas, and the true extent of the contamination is unknown.

More than a dozen households were evacuated after the well blowout in mid-May. As of Monday, five families were unable to return home because their houses are being decontaminated, said Doug Hock, a spokesman for Encana, the Canadian company that owns the well.

Obama Picks Unknown Quantity to Head Pipeline Safety Agency

If confirmed, Dominguez would take over an underfunded, understaffed and beleaguered agency that has faced criticism of cozy ties with industry.

Jun 2, 2015

The nomination of Marie Therese Dominguez, President Obama's pick to lead the federal agency that oversees pipelines, was greeted with surprise and uncertainty by pipeline safety experts.

Carl Weimer, executive director of the watchdog group Pipeline Safety Trust, said he hadn't heard of Dominguez before the nomination, and knew nothing about her track record in the pipeline sector. Weimer said he would reserve judgement until after her confirmation, and said he hoped she would speed the passage of several pipeline safety rules currently lingering in regulatory limbo.

Did Texas Illegally Relax Rules on Coal Plants?

When Texas regulators bypassed the EPA to ease air pollution regulations on 19 coal plants, they violated the federal Clean Air Act, a new petition says.

May 27, 2015

Texas regulators quietly worked with the coal industry to illegally exempt 19 coal-fired power plants from parts of the Clean Air Act, environmental groups claimed in a petition filed today with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Well Explosion Douses Texas Neighborhood Already Weary of Fracking

Blowout in an oil and gas well owned by Encana Corp. in Karnes County prompts evacuations and heightens frustrations.

May 21, 2015

Jeanne Shepherd was on her way to a church gathering when an oil and gas well in Karnes County, Texas blew its top on Tuesday afternoon. A mixture of liquid petroleum products gushed high into the air. Some of it splashed onto Shepherd’s truck, coating her windshield in an opaque, milky film.

Shepherd said the well looked like the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park. "It spewed and it spewed … It was all over everywhere, and I knew I wasn't going home that night," she said.

With Huge Coal Ash Fines, Justice Dept. Puts Industry on Notice

In contrast to weak EPA regulations, recent ruling takes a strong stand on mishandling of coal ash by utility giant Duke Energy.

May 21, 2015

Editor's note: This article is part a series of stories by InsideClimate News reporters exploring the future of the coal industry, Coal's Long Goodbye: Dispatches From the War on Carbon.

Flawed Methane Monitor Underestimates Leaks at Oil and Gas Sites

Researchers find there may be drastically more methane in the air than is being reported to industry and government.

May 5, 2015

A popular scientific instrument used to measure methane leaks from oil and gas operations severely underestimates emissions under certain conditions, a preliminary study found. The results could have major implications for federal policies as the Obama administration moves to regulate methane from the natural gas industry.

Drought-Parched Lake Mead Could Leave Seven States High and Dry

Historic-low water levels in the Colorado River Basin's biggest lake spells trouble, and potential water restrictions, throughout the West.

Apr 29, 2015

Lake Mead, the nation's largest reservoir, reached historic low levels over the weekend, another indication of the persistent drought that grips the American West.

Saturday night, even after a prolonged rainstorm, the gauges at Lake Mead settled out at 1,080.13 feet. It's the lowest recorded lake elevation since the reservoir was filled in the 1930s, said Rose Davis, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Reclamation, a federal agency that oversees water resources.

And it didn't stop there. By mid-afternoon Tuesday, the lake was at 1,079.76 feet. If lake levels are projected to fall below 1,075 feet in January 2016, it will trigger restrictions on the amount of water than can be drawn from the lake. Additional restrictions would follow if levels reach below 1,050 feet and 1,025 feet.

The city of Las Vegas, which gets 90 percent of its water from Lake Mead, is so concerned about falling reservoir levels that it is building a new intake pipeline deeper within the lake, to ensure it will be able withdraw water even if lake levels continue to decline.

Lake Mead is part of the Colorado River Basin, which provides a crucial source of water to seven states and Mexico. The region is in the midst of a 15-year drought, while the state of California is in its fourth consecutive dry year.

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