Two stories about coal that I produced with a team of reporters last summer have won first place in the Society of Environmental Journalists 2010 Awards for Reporting on the Environment for the category “Outstanding Student Reporting.”
For decades, coal has powered hip-replacement surgeries, microwaves, research labs, amusement parks and other essentials of American modern life. The two stories examine how this coal-fired electricity is produced in rural communities in Ohio and West Virginia. The first, “Mining the Mountains,” explores growing controversies in Appalachian communities where mountaintop-removal coal mining is common. “Debating Coal’s Future” tells the story of an Ohio community divided by a proposal to build a new coal-fired power plant.