Abrahm Lustgarten and Joaquin Sapien 2009
The National Press Foundation has awarded the 2009 Stokes Award for Best Energy Writing to ProPublica reporters Abrahm Lustgarten and Joaquin Sapien for their masterful job of investigative reporting and writing about an increasingly popular method of natural gas drilling known as hydraulic fracturing. The work was showcased in ProPublica’s print and online editions in a series that continued for much of 2009. The stories linked more than 1,000 cases of water contamination to places where hydraulic fracturing had taken place. It raised some of the first questions about whether the process, and the chemicals used, were the cause.
NPF’s judges felt the series clearly explains a complex process that most readers likely had never heard of. It makes clear that government oversight is limited by law and budget, and that the risks and damage are real. It also explores legislative remedies and the obstacles to passage. The judges were impressed by ProPublica’s detailed reporting, clear explanatory writing and dynamic online presentation, including an audio slide show, graphics and excellent photos, also shot by Lustgarten.