InsideClimate News Wins Health Care Reporting Award for ‘Big Oil + Bad Air’

Investigation into the toxic chemicals released into the air from fracking was awarded first place by the Association of Health Care Journalists.

Fred Lyssy, an organic farmer near Floresville, Texas, looks at fracking operations just beyond the edge of his fence line. Mr. Lyssy lives with his wife and three young children on 564 acres of family farmland and is worried about toxic emissions from the drilling activity in the Eagle Ford shale. Credit: Lance Rosenfield/Prime

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The investigative series “Fracking the Eagle Ford Shale: Big Oil and Bad Air on the Texas Prairie,” by InsideClimate News in collaboration with the Center for Public Integrity and The Weather Channel, was awarded first place by the Association of Health Care Journalists.

The series, by ICN reporters Lisa Song and David Hasemyer along with Jim Morris of CPI, capped an eight-month investigation into the toxic chemicals released into the air by hydraulic fracturing, highlighting the public health threats of the fracking boom.

The Weather Channel produced a video documentary to accompany the series.

The collaboration was previously awarded a 2014 EPPY Award for best investigative or enterprise feature by the journal Editor & Publisher.

The Eagle Ford Shale region in South Texas became the heart of the fracking boom, producing billions of dollars of oil and gas but also showing the dangers of unchecked emissions. With state regulators heavily influenced by the industry and weakened air pollution laws in Texas, the investigation showed local residents were getting sick at alarming rates.

As a result of the stories, Texas installed a new air monitor in the area.

The AHCJ, a nonprofit journalism organization advancing the public understanding of health care issues, gives awards in 11 categories. The ICN collaboration with CPI won the large investigative category.

“Big Oil + Bad Air” is available on our free ICN Books app, enhanced with video, photographs, a slideshow and print and interactive graphics. It can also be read on our website.