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.

Pages

4:05pm

Fri September 21, 2012
Science

Chimney Rock Becomes Newest National Monument

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

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

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.

Read more

7:50am

Thu September 6, 2012
The Salt

Extreme Weather Means Extreme Food Prices Worldwide, Aid Agency Warns

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

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

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.

Read more

2:20pm

Mon August 20, 2012
Environment

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.

1:10pm

Thu August 16, 2012
Environment

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

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

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

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.

Read more

12:51am

Wed August 15, 2012
Humans

Changing Climate May Have Led To Earliest Mummies

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

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

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.

Read more

7:40am

Tue July 31, 2012
The Salt

Thank The Simple Wasp For That Complex Glass Of Wine

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

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

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.

Read more

4:02am

Sun June 10, 2012
Space

NASA Fishes For Tools To Tackle Asteroid

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

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

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.

Read more

1:24am

Thu May 17, 2012
The Fracking Boom: Missing Answers

Fracking's Methane Trail: A Detective Story

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

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

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."

Read more

1:33pm

Tue May 15, 2012
The Fracking Boom: Missing Answers

'Close Encounters' With Gas Well Pollution

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

NPR

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.

Read more

1:34am

Thu April 19, 2012
Environment

How A 'Western Problem' Led To New Drilling Rules

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

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

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.

Read more

3:04pm

Wed April 18, 2012
Energy

New Rules To Curb Pollution From Oil, Gas Drilling

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

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

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.

Read more

2:53pm

Fri February 10, 2012
Animals

Return Of Gray Wolves Renews Debate Over Hunting

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

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

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.

Read more

2:15pm

Tue January 24, 2012
Energy

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

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

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

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.

Read more

10:01pm

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

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.

Read more

3:17pm

Wed November 30, 2011
Energy

Big Solar Project Moves Forward Without Uncle Sam

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

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

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.

Read more

10:00am

Thu November 10, 2011
Poisoned Places: Toxic Air, Neglected Communities

N.Y. Plant's Neighbors Expose Regulatory Gaps

Originally published on Mon November 14, 2011 7:58 am

John W. Poole NPR

Part 4 of a four-part series, Poisoned Places: Toxic Air, Neglected Communities

Jeani Thomson has been pleading with New York state officials for more than 30 years to protect her neighborhood from the foul-smelling "blue fog" that settles in her yard. She has long suspected the source is an industrial facility about a mile from her house called Tonawanda Coke.

Read more

3:02am

Mon November 7, 2011
Poisoned Places: Toxic Air, Neglected Communities

Secret 'Watch List' Reveals Failure To Curb Toxic Air

Originally published on Thu November 10, 2011 12:02 pm

The Continental Carbon plant sits on the southern outskirts of Ponca City, Okla. Until August, the plant was on an internal EPA "watch list," for violating rules of the Clean Air Act.
David Gilkey NPR

Part 1 of a four-part series, Poisoned Places: Toxic Air, Neglected Communities

The system Congress set up 21 years ago to clean up toxic air pollution still leaves many communities exposed to risky concentrations of benzene, formaldehyde, mercury and many other hazardous chemicals.

Read more

8:01am

Thu September 22, 2011
Business

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.

Read more

1:55pm

Tue August 9, 2011
Business

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.

Read more

4:12pm

Mon August 8, 2011
Education

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.

Read more

Pages