For 35 years, millions of Americans and citizens of the world have turned to MacNeil/Lehrer Productions for the solid, reliable reporting that has made the PBS NewsHour one of the most trusted news programs in television. These are some of their most in-depth environmental reports.
Oil and Natural Gas
On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig atop the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico exploded, setting off what would become the largest oil leak in U.S. history. But the challenge for news organizations was to accurately convey the scope and impact of the disaster. The PBS NewsHour team developed Emmy-nominated innovative reporting tools, melding them with our trademark in-depth analysis to engage our audience and accurately convey the impact of events in the Gulf.
A year later, Montana faced its own oil spill when an ExxonMobil pipeline burst and dumped thousands of gallons of oil, endangering the Yellowstone River and washing oil onto ranchers’ lands. A NewsHour report revealed how the melting snowpack exposed the pipeline and what the spill meant for ranchers and residents.
But the issue of fossil fuels goes beyond breaks in pipelines. Correspondent Elizabeth Brackett presented the economic benefits and environmental concerns of excavating the tar sands in Canada, and the PBS NewsHour continues to cover the debate over the Keystone XL Pipeline that would carry the oil from Canada to refineries in Texas. The pipeline would cut through the Ogallala Aquifer, the largest freshwater aquifer in the United States which provides drinking water and irrigation water to states like Nebraska. And as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” gains national attention, the NewsHour weighed the benefits and health risks it poses in a Colorado town.
Coping With Climate Change
The PBS NewsHour has dedicated a section of its science page to stories on how the United States is coping with the effects of climate change. Through this coverage, the NewsHour is also reaching out to viewers for their stories on how they are witnessing changing climate in their communities. The new page has used video and photos to explore the severe drought in Texas and ot show how earlier springs have affected Washington, D.C.'s beloved National Cherry Blossom Festival. You can also explore the temperature records broken in your area with the NewsHour's interactive widget.
Fukushima After the Meltdown
After cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant failed following Japan's magnitude 9.0 Tohoku earthquake and resulting tsunami, authorities struggled to bring several nuclear reactors under control. In a special report from science correspondent Miles O'Brien, the NewsHour delved into how a meltdown occurs and what Fukushima will mean for the health and environment of Japan in the future. An interview with American Carl Pillitteri, a nuclear technician who survived the tsunami and the meltdown, revealed a moment-by-moment account of the crisis at the plant.
The series went beyond Japan, as the PBS NewsHour looked at earthquake technology that aims to predict future quakes, U.S. nuclear policy and how coastal towns can protect themselves from tsunamis. In online extras, the NewsHour tracked the debris from the disaster and revisited an abandoned town near Chernobyl on the 25th anniversary of the nuclear reactor meltdown.
The world’s oceans are delicate ecosystems facing constant change. The drastic changes in the oceans from warming temperatures, salinity and acidity to pollution threaten all forms of sea life, particularly coral reefs. The NewsHour has covered threats to coral reefs from the pesticides and sediments flooding into the Great Barrier Reef to bacteria in human sewage poisoning reefs off the coast of Florida. Both East and West Coast got their say in how ocean acidification affects local ecosystems in a conversation with Hari Sreenivasan.
Flooding the Morganza Spillway
In May 2011, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened the Morganza spillway to relieve levees in New Orleans, flooding small towns and farmlands. The NewsHour explored how the floodwaters could carry fertilizers and other unknown elements onto farmland along the spillway.
The Gray Wolf
Is the gray wolf a growing threat or a necessary player in the ecosystem of the western United States? Correspondent Miles O’Brien asked that question in a report on the return of the gray wolf to the west, talking to ranchers and scientists in Yellowstone about finding a place for the wolves, and how losing top predators, from wolves to sea otters, can cause crashes in the food chain.
Green Energy and Sustainability
The NewsHour has also focused on some ways the United States is changing its energy habits. In 2009, the NewsHour covered how Oklahoma was looking to the wind not only as a source of energy, but as a source of green technology jobs for its youth. The NewsHour also focused on the struggle of getting renewable energy from the rural sites where it is collected to the urban centers most in need. Innovators aren't just looking to the grid to save resources. A NewsHour profile on Earthships examined how trash can be used to create energy-efficient, sustainable homes.
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