Elizabeth Shogren

Elizabeth Shogren is an NPR News Science Desk correspondent focused on covering environment and energy issues and news.

Since she came to NPR in 2005, Shogren's reporting has covered everything from the damage caused by the BP oil spill on the ecology of the Gulf Coast, to the persistence of industrial toxic air pollution as seen by the legacy of Tonawanda Coke near Buffalo, to the impact of climate change on American icons like grizzly bears.

Prior to NPR, Shogren spent 14 years as a reporter on a variety of beats at The Los Angeles Times, including four years reporting on environmental issues in Washington, D.C., and across the country. While working from the paper's Washington bureau, from 1993-2000, Shogren covered the White House, Congress, social policy, money and politics, and presidential campaigns. During that time, Shogren was given the opportunity to travel abroad on short-term foreign reporting assignments, including the Kosovo crisis in 1999, the Bosnian war in 1996, and Russian elections in 1993 and 1996. Before joining the Washington bureau, Shogren was based in Moscow where she covered the breakup of the Soviet Union and the rise of democracy in Russia for the newspaper.

Beginning in 1988, Shogren worked as a freelance reporter based in Moscow, publishing in a variety of newspapers and magazines, including Newsweek, The Dallas Morning News, the San Francisco Chronicle, and The Washington Post. During that time, she covered the fall of the Berlin Wall and the peaceful revolution in Prague.

Shogren's career in journalism began in the wire services. She worked for the Associated Press in Chicago and at United Press International in Albany, NY.

Throughout Shogren's career she has received numerous awards and honors including as a finalist for the 2011 Goldsmith Prize for investigative reporting, the National Wildlife Federation National Conservation Achievement Award, the Meade Prize for coverage of air pollution and she was an IRE finalist. She is a member of Sigma Delta Chi and the Society of Professional Journalist.

After earning a Bachelor of Arts in Russian studies at the University of Virginia, Shogren went on to receive a Master of Science in journalism from Columbia University.

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Environment
1:21 am
Thu April 4, 2013

Arkansas Oil Spill Sheds Light On Aging Pipeline System

A worker cleans up oil in Mayflower, Ark., on Monday, days after a pipeline ruptured and spewed oil over lawns and roadways.
Jeannie Nuss AP

Originally published on Thu April 4, 2013 8:45 am

Amber Bartlett was waiting last Friday for her kids to come home from school. One of them called from the entrance to the upscale subdivision near Little Rock, Ark., to tell her the community was being evacuated because of an oil spill. Bartlett was amazed by what she saw out her front door.

"I mean, just rolling oil. I mean, it was like a river," she says. "It had little waves in it."

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Environment
10:52 pm
Sun March 3, 2013

After Keystone Review, Environmentalists Vow To Continue Fight

Demonstrators carry a mock pipeline as they pass the White House to protest the Keystone Pipeline, in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 18, 2012.
Rod Lamkey Jr. The Washington Times /Landov

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 12:33 pm

Environmentalists have a hope.

If they can block the Keystone XL pipeline, they can keep Canada from developing more of its dirty tar sands oil. It takes a lot of energy to get it out of the ground and turn it into gasoline, so it has a bigger greenhouse gas footprint than conventional oil.

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Environment
3:37 am
Mon February 18, 2013

Protesters Call On Obama To Reject Keystone XL Pipeline

Dr. J. William Hirzy, a chemistry professor at American Universiy, rests outside the rally route with a graph he uses to teach his students about the relationship between atmospheric carbon dioxide and global temperature.
Daniel M.N. Turner NPR

Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 2:33 pm

Tens of thousands of protesters turned out on the National Mall Sunday to encourage President Obama to make good on his commitment to act on climate change.

In his Inaugural address from outside the U.S. Capitol, the president said: "We will respond to the threat of climate change knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations."

Just a few weeks later, next to the Washington Monument, Paul Birkeland was one of a couple dozen people holding a long white tube above their heads.

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Environment
3:28 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

In Second Inaugural, Obama Makes Climate A Priority

"We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations," President Obama said Monday during his second inaugural address.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 22, 2013 6:48 pm

President Obama pulled out a surprise in his inaugural address on Monday. After barely mentioning climate change in his campaign, he put it on his short list of priorities for his second term.

"We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations," he said. Today the White House had scant detail on what the president plans to do.

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Environment
3:43 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Understanding Climate Change, With Help From Thoreau

Researchers in Massachusetts and Wisconsin are comparing modern flower blooming data with notes made by Henry David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold. The sight of irises blooming during a Boston winter helped spur the research.
Darlyne A. Murawski Getty Images/National Geographic Creative

Originally published on Fri January 18, 2013 10:35 am

Modern scientists trying to understand climate change are engaged in an unlikely collaboration — with two beloved but long-dead nature writers: Henry David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold.

The authors of Walden and A Sand County Almanac and last spring's bizarrely warm weather have helped today's scientists understand that the first flowers of spring can continue to bloom earlier, as temperatures rise to unprecedented levels.

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Energy
4:21 pm
Fri January 11, 2013

Coal Loses Crown As King Of Power Generation

Georgia Power's coal-fired steam-turbine electric generating Plant Bowen in Euharlee, Ga., seen in 2009. The utility is planning on shuttering 15 coal- and oil-fired generating units at its facilities.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 4:31 pm

Just a few years ago, Georgia Power generated nearly three-fourths of its electricity with coal. Last year, for the first time, natural gas edged out coal, and just this week the company announced plans to close 10 coal-fired power generators within the next few years.

"We do recognize this is a historic event for our company. We've never announced this many closings at one time," says Mark Williams, a company spokesperson.

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Environment
4:34 pm
Tue January 8, 2013

Deep In Canadian Lakes, Signs Of Tar Sands Pollution

The Shell Oil Jackpine open pit mine uses trucks that are 3 stories tall, weigh 1 million pounds and cost $7 million each. There is explosive growth in the oil field areas around Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada.
The Washington Post/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 4:43 pm

Canadian researchers have used the mud at the bottom of lakes like a time machine to show that tar sands oil production in Alberta, Canada, is polluting remote regional lakes as far as 50 miles from the operations.

An increasingly large share of U.S. oil comes from Canada's tar sands. There are environmental consequences of this development, but until recently, Canadian regional and federal governments left it to the industry to monitor these effects.

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Energy
12:25 pm
Tue December 25, 2012

Texas Man Takes Last Stand Against Keystone XL Pipeline

David Daniel, an east Texas landowner, was so determined to block the Keystone XL pipeline from coming through his forest that he built an elaborate network of treehouses eight stories above the ground.
Maggie Starbard NPR

Originally published on Tue December 25, 2012 2:20 pm

An east Texas landowner was so determined to block the Keystone XL pipeline from coming through his forest that he took to his trees and built an elaborate network of treehouses eight stories above the ground.

"It popped into my head a long time ago, actually," says 45-year-old David Daniel. "If I had to climb my butt on top of a tree and sit there, I would. It started with that."

It turned out to be Daniel's last stand in a long battle against the Keystone XL, a pipeline project that would bring oil from Canada all the way to refineries in the Texas Gulf Coast.

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Environment
1:31 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Loophole Lets Toxic Oil Water Flow Over Indian Land

Dirty water from the oil wells flows through oil-caked pipes into a settling pit where trucks vacuum off the oil. A net covers the pit to keep out birds and other wildlife. Streams of this wastewater flow through the reservation and join natural creeks and rivers.
Elizabeth Shogren NPR

Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 9:55 am

The air reeks so strongly of rotten eggs that tribal leader Wes Martel hesitates to get out of the car at an oil field on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. He already has a headache from the fumes he smelled at another oil field.

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Around the Nation
5:55 pm
Mon October 29, 2012

Millions Without Power As Sandy Makes Landfall

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

Already more than a million people from Maine to Virginia have lost electricity because of the storm. And in one case, as we heard a few minutes ago, the utility Consolidated Edison took the unusual step of cutting off power to parts of lower Manhattan. By the time the storm is over, more than 10 million homes and businesses in the eastern U.S. could lose electricity. That's according to the utility industry.

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It's All Politics
2:09 pm
Sun October 14, 2012

On The Campaign Trail, Regulations Dominate The Environmental Debate

Smoke rises from the stacks of the La Cygne Generating Station coal-fired power plant in La Cygne, Kan. President Obama's regulation of the coal industry has come under fire from his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.
Charlie Riedel AP

Originally published on Sun October 14, 2012 3:02 pm

In previous elections, candidates from both parties have campaigned on pledges to be environmental presidents. This time, neither candidate is talking much about cleaning up the air or protecting scenic lands.

Instead, the debate has focused on whether and how much environmental regulations hurt businesses, especially the energy industry.

Mostly it's been GOP candidate Mitt Romney criticizing President Obama for what he sees as overzealous environmental regulations that strangle the economic recovery.

Environmental Rules

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Science
4:36 pm
Fri September 21, 2012

Chimney Rock Becomes Newest National Monument

A large sandstone feature in southwestern Colorado, Chimney Rock became America's newest national monument on Friday.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri September 21, 2012 4:53 pm

President Obama named a new national monument on Friday: Chimney Rock in southwestern Colorado. With two sandstone spires soaring from a mesa, not only is Chimney Rock a spectacular place; it also provides a fascinating glimpse into the ancient people who lived in that region more than 1,000 years ago.

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The Salt
7:50 am
Thu September 6, 2012

Extreme Weather Means Extreme Food Prices Worldwide, Aid Agency Warns

Somali girls line up to receive a hot meal in Mogadishu last year after the worst drought in the Horn of Africa in decades, compounded by war, put millions in danger of starvation.
Roberto Schmmidt AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed September 19, 2012 2:11 pm

Reducing greenhouse gases and saving the polar bears tend to dominate discussions on climate change. But to the booming world population, one climate change issue may be even more pressing – hunger.

A new report by a leading international relief agency warns that climate change will increase the risk of large spikes in global food prices in the future, and lead to more hungry people in the world. That's because extreme weather like droughts, floods and heat waves are predicted to become much more frequent as the planet heats up.

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Environment
2:20 pm
Mon August 20, 2012

Wood Energy Not 'Green' Enough, Says Mass.

Originally published on Mon August 20, 2012 4:02 pm

Wind and solar get lots of attention, but another kind of renewable power actually creates more energy in our country --wood. The state of Massachusetts on Friday decided that these plants aren't green enough to get some special breaks.

Environment
1:21 pm
Thu August 16, 2012

When This Oil Spills, It's 'A Whole New Monster'

An oil sheen appears along the shore of the Kalamazoo. More than 800,000 gallons of oil entered Talmadge Creek and flowed into the Kalamazoo River, a Lake Michigan tributary. Heavy rains caused the river to overtop existing dams and carried oil 30 miles downstream.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Thu August 16, 2012 4:19 pm

Sometime in the next few months, David Daniel probably will have to stand by and watch as bulldozers knock down his thick forest and dig up the streams he loves.

His East Texas property is one of more than 1,000 in the path of a new pipeline, the southern stretch of what is known as the Keystone XL system.

For years, Daniel has tried to avoid this fate — or at least figure out what risks will come with it. But it has been difficult for him to get straight answers about the tar sands oil the pipeline will carry, and what happens when it spills.

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Humans
12:51 am
Wed August 15, 2012

Changing Climate May Have Led To Earliest Mummies

A photo from a recent National Geographic story shows a long-buried corpse, preserved by one of Earth's driest climates, Chile's Atacama Desert, where it has retained centuries-old skin, hair and clothing.
Enrico Ferorelli National Geographic

Originally published on Wed August 15, 2012 3:14 am

A couple of thousand years before the Egyptians preserved some of their dead, a much simpler society made the first known mummies.

The Chinchorros, the first mummy makers, lived about 7,000 years ago in South America, on the coast near the border between modern-day Peru and Chile. The desert area where they lived was so dry, dead people turned into mummies naturally.

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The Salt
7:40 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Thank The Simple Wasp For That Complex Glass Of Wine

The European hornet, or vespa crabro, helps make wine by kickstarting the fermentation process while the grapes are still on the vine.
Otto Hahn Getty Images/Picture Press RM

Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 9:33 am

The next time you take a sip of your favorite wine, you might want to make your first toast to hornets. Or, more precisely, European hornets and paper wasps.

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Space
4:02 am
Sun June 10, 2012

NASA Fishes For Tools To Tackle Asteroid

Astronauts Shannon Walker and David Saint-Jacques test a probe in the waters off Key Largo, Fla. Their research may help NASA set foot on an asteroid someday.
Miami Herald MCT via Getty Images

Originally published on Sun June 10, 2012 6:32 pm

NASA may have retired its shuttles, but it has its sights on sending astronauts deeper into space than ever before.

These voyages are years away, but on Monday, astronauts are heading underwater to take part in a simulation that will help them figure out how they might explore one possible new destination: a near-Earth asteroid.

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The Fracking Boom: Missing Answers
1:24 am
Thu May 17, 2012

Fracking's Methane Trail: A Detective Story

A natural gas drilling rig's lights shimmer in the evening light near Silt, Colo.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Fri May 18, 2012 7:36 am

Gaby Petron didn't set out to challenge industry and government assumptions about how much pollution comes from natural gas drilling.

She was just doing what she always does as an air pollution data sleuth for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"I look for a story in the data," says Petron. "You give me a data set, I will study it back and forth and left and right for weeks, and I will find something to tell about it."

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The Fracking Boom: Missing Answers
1:33 pm
Tue May 15, 2012

'Close Encounters' With Gas Well Pollution

NPR

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 8:54 am

Living in the middle of a natural gas boom can be pretty unsettling. The area around the town of Silt, Colo., used to be the kind of sleepy rural place where the tweet of birds was the most you would hear. Now it's hard to make out the birds because of the rumbling of natural gas drilling rigs.

The land here is steep cliffs and valleys. But bare splotches of earth called well pads are all over the place.

"That's the one I'm worried about because it just went in," says Tim Ray.

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Environment
1:34 am
Thu April 19, 2012

How A 'Western Problem' Led To New Drilling Rules

Oil field workers drill into the Gypsum Hills near Medicine Lodge, Kan., on Feb. 21. The Environmental Protection Agency announced new rules Wednesday to control the problem of air pollution coming from wells being drilled by the booming oil and natural gas drilling industry.
Orlin Wagner AP

Originally published on Thu April 19, 2012 7:45 am

The Environmental Protection Agency's new air pollution rules for the oil and gas industry may seem like odd timing, as President Obama has been trying to deflect Republican criticism that he overregulates energy industries. But the rules weren't the Obama administration's idea.

Several years ago, communities in Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming complained about air pollution from natural gas booms in their local areas.

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Energy
3:04 pm
Wed April 18, 2012

New Rules To Curb Pollution From Oil, Gas Drilling

Oil and natural gas drillers use equipment like this to separate the liquid, gas and sand that come out of wells at the beginning of hydraulic fracturing operations.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Wed April 18, 2012 5:34 pm

The Environmental Protection Agency announced new rules Wednesday to control the problem of air pollution coming from wells being drilled by the booming oil and natural gas drilling industry.

Currently, waste products from the drilling operations, which include a mix of chemicals, sand and water, can be pumped into open enclosures or pits, where toxic substances can make their way into the air. The new rules will require this fluid to be captured by 2015, and flared — or burned off — in the meantime.

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Animals
2:53 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Return Of Gray Wolves Renews Debate Over Hunting

A gray wolf in the wild. Park officials say hunting restrictions in place in parts of of Montana have protected Yellowstone's wolves from a repeat of a 2009 hunt in which four Yellowstone wolves were shot.
MacNeill Lyons/National Park Service AP

Originally published on Fri February 10, 2012 4:24 pm

Gray wolves were taken off the endangered species list in Idaho and Montana last year and put under state control. But they're still on the list in neighboring Wyoming. That's because Wyoming has been the most aggressive about wanting to kill wolves.

Wyoming has finally struck a deal with the federal government regarding how wolves will be treated once the state takes over. But environmentalists believe the agreement denies wolves an important refuge.

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Energy
1:00 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

Obama Discusses Details From His Energy Agenda

The Obama administration released more details Thursday about the energy plan he previewed at the State of the Union this week. He announced an oil-and-gas-lease sale on nearly 38 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico — and proposals for new incentives to increase the use of natural gas in heavy trucks and buses.

Energy
2:15 pm
Tue January 24, 2012

Foreign Oil Imports Drop As U.S. Drilling Ramps Up

Natural gas is burned off next to an oil well being drilled at a site near Tioga, N.D., in August. U.S. oil production started increasing a few years ago and is predicted to continue to rise, reducing the country's dependence on oil imports.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 24, 2012 4:07 pm

Since President Obama took office, the U.S. has made considerable progress in overcoming a problem that has bedeviled presidents since Richard Nixon — dependence on foreign oil.

When U.S. oil dependence peaked at 60 percent in 2005, then-President George W. Bush said the country had a serious problem and was "addicted to oil."

Oil imports were down to 49 percent in 2010, and the Energy Information Agency predicted Tuesday that imports would drop to 36 percent by 2035.

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Poisoned Places: Toxic Air, Neglected Communities
10:01 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

EPA To Unveil New Rules For Power Plants

More than 20 years ago, Congress ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate toxic air pollution. It's done that for most industries, but not the biggest polluters — coal and oil-burning power plants.

The EPA now plans to change that later this week, by setting new rules to limit mercury and other harmful pollution from power plants.

When Congress first told the EPA to regulate toxic air pollution in 1990, pediatrician Lynn Goldman was investigating the impact of mercury from mining operations on Native American families living near a contaminated lake.

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Energy
3:17 pm
Wed November 30, 2011

Big Solar Project Moves Forward Without Uncle Sam

SolarCity has received financing from Bank of America Merrill Lynch to install solar electricity systems on houses on military bases, like one here at Soaring Heights Communities at Davis Monthan Air Force Base outside Tucson, Ariz.
Lend Lease

Originally published on Thu December 1, 2011 2:05 am

We've heard a lot about Solyndra, a solar panel maker that went bankrupt despite lots of federal subsidies. But on Wednesday, a solar installation company and one of the country's biggest banks announced a billion-dollar project to put solar systems on the roofs of military housing. And they're doing it without the kind of federal help Solyndra got.

When SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive came up with a plan to put solar on the rooftops of military housing around the country, he was sure he'd need federal backing to get loans for such a big project.

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Business
8:01 am
Thu September 22, 2011

Air Force And Navy Turn To Bio-Fuels

US airforce F16 jet fighters sit on the tarmac at the Aviano air base in Italy on March 25, 2011. It tested its jets on fuel made of 50 percent vegetable oil.
Giuseppe Cacace AFP/Getty Images

The Pentagon's hunt for an alternative to petroleum has turned a lowly weed and animal fat into something indistinguishable from jet fuel and now the military is trying to kick-start a new bio-fuel industry.

"To flip the line from 'Field of Dreams', if the Navy comes, they will build it," Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said in a recent speech.

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Business
1:55 pm
Tue August 9, 2011

Truck Industry Welcomes New Fuel Regulations

The Obama administration announced Tuesday the first ever fuel efficiency standards for larger trucks and buses. New vehicles sold in 2018 will go up to 20 percent farther on a gallon of fuel. So far, the truck manufacturing industry is welcoming the rules.

Outside the White House today, the heavyweights of the truck manufacturing industry took the microphone one after another.

"We're happy to be part of this. We really appreciate the process," says Denny Slagle, CEO of Mack Trucks.

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Education
4:12 pm
Mon August 8, 2011

No Child Left Behind Gets A Revamp

Originally published on Mon August 8, 2011 5:08 pm

The Obama administration is giving school districts a waiver from some mandates of the No Child Left Behind education law.

The law requires schools to reach higher goals each year, and by 2014, it demands that every student be graded proficient in reading and math. The administration, which has repeatedly called on Congress to rewrite the legislation, says the law is overly punitive.

In an announcement on Monday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan opened the door for states to avoid the penalties and deadlines of the current No Child Left Behind Law.

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