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
3:34 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

White House Report Says Climate Change Is Here And Now

Originally published on Tue May 6, 2014 7:04 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Climate change is not a future problem for faraway places; it's affecting Americans now. This comes from a U.S. government report out today. NPR's Elizabeth Shogren says it also shows that choices people make now will have big ramifications for future generations.

ELIZABETH SHOGREN, BYLINE: The National Climate Assessment is the government's take on the latest science about climate change. This is the third one and its message is clear.

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Law
2:03 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

High Court Ruling Revives Law Against Out-Of-State Pollution

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 10:07 am

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel. Some communities are unlucky recipients of air pollution that blows in from other states and today, those areas got good news by way of a Supreme Court ruling. It revives a major air pollution rule that was knocked down by a lower court. NPR's Elizabeth Shogren reports it's another big victory for the Environmental Protection Agency.

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Environment
3:40 am
Sat April 5, 2014

Feds Hope $5 Billion Settlement A Lesson For Polluters

A sign at the old Kerr-McGee uranium mill site in Grants, N.M., warns of radioactive material. This week, the Justice Department announced a $5 billion settlement against the mining company to pay for the cleanup of toxic sites the company left across the U.S. over a period of more than eight decades.
Susan Montoya Bryan AP

Originally published on Sat April 5, 2014 9:26 am

This week, the federal government announced a record-breaking $5 billion settlement in a remarkable environmental case. The toxic legacy of the company involved, Kerr-McGee, stretches back 85 years and includes scores of sites across the country.

Kerr-McGee ran uranium mines in the Navajo Nation, wood-treating businesses across the Midwest and East Coast, and a perchlorate plant on a tributary of Lake Mead, the nation's largest reservoir — and it was messy.

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News
2:04 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

International Ruling Puts Stop To Japan's 'Scientific' Whaling

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 10:08 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Whale lovers scored a major victory today. For almost two decades, Japanese whalers have been killing whales in the Antarctic Ocean. The Japanese government claimed it was all for scientific, not commercial, purposes. NPR's Elizabeth Shogren reports that today, an international court rejected that claim and said the whaling must stop.

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Science
12:03 pm
Sat March 22, 2014

Why The Exxon Valdez Spill Was A Eureka Moment For Science

An oiled murre passes the darkened shoreline near Prince William Sound, Alaska, less than a month after the March 1989 spill.
Erik Hill Anchorage Daily News/MCT/Landov

Originally published on Mon March 24, 2014 9:36 am

On March 24, 1989, the tanker Exxon Valdez struck a reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilling 11 million gallons of crude oil into the pristine water. At the time, it was the single biggest spill in U.S. history. In a series of stories, NPR is examining the lasting social and economic impacts of the disaster, as well as the policy, regulation and scientific research that came out of it.

Twenty-five years of research following the Exxon Valdez disaster has led to some startling conclusions about the persistent effects of spilled oil.

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Environment
3:11 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Colorado Becomes First State To Restrict Methane Emissions

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 6:06 am

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas from oil and gas production. The rules require companies to find and repair equipment leaks. The rules also will reduce air pollution that contributes to smog.

Science
1:28 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Industry Challenges EPA's Greenhouse Gas Rules In High Court

Not all energy producers find fault with the EPA's rules. Calpine, which helped build the Delta Energy Center in Pittsburg, Calif., says the permitting regulations aren't overly cumbersome.
JAKUB MOSUR AP

Originally published on Mon February 24, 2014 8:35 am

The Supreme Court will hear arguments Monday about the Environmental Protection Agency's first-ever greenhouse gas regulations for the biggest polluting facilities.

The case focuses on a 3-year-old requirement that companies get permits anytime they construct new plants or modify existing ones that will emit a lot of greenhouse gases.

EPA's supporters and most of its challengers agree this case is narrow in scope; the court's ruling is not expected to threaten EPA's broader strategy to fight global warming.

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Business
4:13 am
Wed February 12, 2014

U.S. To Ban Commercial Trade Of Elephant Ivory

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 5:57 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We heard elsewhere in our program that conservation experts are meeting in London this week to try to crack down on the trade in illegal wildlife. Here in Washington, the White House announced yesterday new restrictions on the import and sale of African elephant ivory.

NPR's Elizabeth Shogren reports.

ELIZABETH SHOGREN, BYLINE: Elephant ivory goes for $1,500 a pound. Rhino horn is worth its weight in gold - $45,000 a pound. Dan Ashe heads the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service.

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Energy
3:08 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

State Dept. Delivers Unwelcome News For Keystone Opponents

A protest of the Keystone XL pipeline last March along its proposed route near Bradshaw, Nebraska.
NH AP

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 9:45 pm

The U.S. Department of State says Canada's production of tar sands crude, which has a bigger greenhouse gas footprint than other types of oil, is unlikely to be affected by the controversial Keystone XL pipeline proposal.

That assessment came Friday as part of a massive environmental review by the State Department — the analysis fills 11 volumes.

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Around the Nation
3:57 am
Fri January 24, 2014

Drinking Water Not Tested For Tens Of Thousands Of Chemicals

Al Jones of the West Virginia Department of General Services tests water as he flushes faucets and opens a rest room at the State Capitol in Charleston, W. Va., on Jan. 13, four days after a chemical spill into the Elk River. It wasn't until Jan. 21 that state officials were told by Freedom Industries that a second contaminant had also entered the river.
Steve Helber AP

Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 6:48 pm

The fact that a second contaminant in West Virginia's drinking water eluded detection for nearly two weeks — despite intense testing of the water — reveals an important truth about how companies test drinking water: In most cases, they only find the contaminants they're looking for.

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Animals
3:16 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

To Save Threatened Owl, Another Species Is Shot

A northern spotted owl in a Redwood forest.
Michael Nichols Getty Images/National Geographic Creative

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 10:19 am

In desperation to save the rare northern spotted owl, biologists are doing something that goes against their core — shooting another owl that's rapidly taking over spotted owl territory across the northwest.

"If we don't do it, what we're essentially doing, in my view, is dooming the spotted owl to extinction," says Lowell Diller, senior biologist for Green Diamond, a timber company.

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Around the Nation
6:53 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

The Big Impact Of A Little-Known Chemical In W.Va. Spill

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 8:06 am

The chemical that was found last week to be contaminating the drinking water of hundreds of thousands of West Virginians is used to clean coal. But very little is known about how toxic it is to people or to the environment when it spills.

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Environment
2:47 am
Thu January 9, 2014

Interior Secretary Wants To Create Jobs For Conservationists

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 8:21 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

During the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt put hundreds of thousands of Americans to work in National Parks and forests in the Civilian Conservation Corps. President Obama's Secretary of the Interior wants to bring back that spirit, to create jobs and a new generation of conservationists.

But as NPR's Elizabeth Shogren reports, it's not the easiest thing to do in tight budget times.

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Environment
8:42 am
Sat December 28, 2013

A Scientist's New Job: Keeping The Polar Bears' Plight Public

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 1:43 pm

The Endangered Species Act, which turns 40 on Saturday, helped bring back iconic species such as the wolf, grizzly bear and bald eagle, after hunting, trapping and pesticides almost wiped those animals out.

But a very different kind of threat — global warming — is pushing some species like the polar bear to the brink of extinction.

One government biologist discovered the best way he could help save polar bears was to quit his job.

A New Kind Of Conservation Problem

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Animals
3:21 am
Sun December 1, 2013

Saving The Native Prairie — One Black-Footed Ferret At A Time

Biologist Travis Livieri checks a briefly sedated ferret's health status inside an improvised trailer clinic.
Elizabeth Shogren NPR

Originally published on Sun December 1, 2013 12:25 pm

American pioneers saw the endless stretches of grassland of the Great Plains as a place to produce grain and beef for a growing country. But one casualty was the native prairie ecosystem and animals that thrived only there.

Some biologists are trying to save the prairies and they've picked a hero to help them: the black-footed ferret. In trying to save this long skinny predator with a raccoon-like mask, the biologists believe they have a chance to right a wrong that nearly wiped a species off the planet.

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Energy
3:37 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

California, Colorado Consider Tough Oil And Gas Regulations

Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 3:54 pm

Colorado and California both just proposed new regulations for oil and gas production in their states. Both states have been pushed by environmental concerns to establish rules tougher than federal requirements. If Colorado's proposal goes ahead, it would be the first state in the nation to directly regulate methane. California also says its proposed rule would be the toughest in the nation. It regulates the engineering technique called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Energy
6:07 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

Is Running Your Car On Rubbish The Future Of Fuels?

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The Environmental Protection Agency today proposed to scale back the amount of renewable fuels in our nation's gasoline supply, biofuels like ethanol made from corn. The EPA is responding, in part, to oil companies that say they're already taking as much ethanol as they can. They say any more and it will hurt quality. But there's another reason for the EPA's action. As NPR's Elizabeth Shogren reports, cheap biofuels haven't been developed as quickly as hoped.

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NPR Story
3:17 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

Widespread Plague In Wildlife Threatens Western Ecosystems

Originally published on Thu October 24, 2013 8:26 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

Most Americans' experience with plague is limited to history books. In the 14th century, it famously wiped out half of Europe's population. But right now, the bacteria is quietly ravaging wildlife in parts of the American West.

NPR's Elizabeth Shogren has the story.

(SOUNDBITE OF A PRAIRIE DOG)

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The Two-Way
3:03 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Supreme Court To Weigh EPA Permits For Power Plant Emissions

The Supreme Court is expected to take up the case on the greenhouse gas permits for large polluters early next year.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 7:14 am

The Supreme Court has agreed to review an Obama administration policy that requires new power plants and other big polluting facilities to apply for permits to emit greenhouse gases.

To get these permits, which have been required since 2011, companies may have to use pollution controls or otherwise reduce greenhouse gases from their operations — although industries report that so far they haven't had to install special pollution control equipment to qualify for the permits.

The rule is part of a larger effort by the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases.

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Environment
10:08 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

EPA Wants To Limit Greenhouse Gases From New Coal Power Plants

Mississippi Power's Kemper County energy facility near DeKalb, Miss., seen under construction last year. Carbon dioxide will be captured from this plant and used to stimulate production of oil from existing wells.
Rogelio V. Solis AP

Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 6:11 pm

The Environmental Protection Agency's second stab at a proposal to set the first-ever limits on greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants would make it impossible for companies to build the kind of coal-fired plants that have been the country's biggest source of electricity for decades.

Under the proposal, released Friday, any new plant that runs on coal would be permitted to emit only about half as much carbon dioxide as an average coal plant puts into the air today.

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Environment
2:12 am
Mon September 16, 2013

Debate Revs As Decision Stalls Over Oil Pipeline From Canada

A 60-foot section of pipe is lowered into a trench during construction of the Gulf Coast Pipeline in Prague, Okla., in March. The Gulf Coast Pipeline, a 485-mile crude oil line, is part of the Keystone XL project and will run from Cushing, Okla. to Nederland, Texas. Although this southern stretch of the pipeline is nearly finished, the northern stretch is still under study.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Mon September 16, 2013 10:56 am

Five years ago this week, a Canadian company proposed building a pipeline to send heavy crude oil from Alberta to U.S. refineries. Although the Obama administration's answer on the Keystone XL pipeline is not expected anytime soon, politicians in Washington and Canada are ramping up the pressure for the project, while environmentalists are pushing hard against it.

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Science
1:04 am
Wed September 4, 2013

Bald Eagles Are Back In A Big Way — And The Talons Are Out

Bryan Watts, a conservation biologist at the College of William and Mary, and biology graduate student Courtney Turrin, survey eagle behavior along the James River in late-summer.
Elizabeth Shogren NPR

Originally published on Wed September 4, 2013 6:48 pm

"It's a jungle if you're an eagle right now on the Chesapeake Bay," says Bryan Watts, a conservation biologist at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. "You have to watch your back."

Americans have long imagined their national symbol as a solitary, noble bird soaring on majestic wings. The birds are indeed gorgeous and still soar, but the notion that they are loners is outdated, Watts and other conservationists are finding.

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Research News
3:44 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

N. America's Oldest Known Petroglyphs Discovered In Nevada

Courtesy of Larry Benson

Originally published on Fri August 16, 2013 4:22 pm

Ancient North Americans gouged elaborate rock art into a heap of big boulders northeast of Reno, Nev., more than 10,000 years ago and perhaps 15,000 years ago. That makes the carvings the oldest known petroglyphs on the continent, according to a paper published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

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Energy
3:27 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

The Grid Of The Future Could Be Brought To You By ... You

Wind turbines at the Kahuku wind farm on Oahu's North Shore in 2011. Hawaiian energy managers are hoping to build stronger connections with customers to better manage renewable sources of energy on the grid.
Yuriko Nakao Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri August 16, 2013 6:40 am

The electricity system is experiencing growing pains these days. But it's not only demand for electricity that's expanding — it's the sources of electricity, particularly unpredictable kinds, like wind farms and solar panels.

And grid operators know that we're just at the beginning. States are requiring more renewable power to fight climate change, and it may be the customers who will play a big role in helping grid operators manage these clean, but finicky, sources of power.

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Environment
3:58 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

EPA Wants To Allow Continued Wastewater Dumping In Wyoming

More than 40 years ago, the EPA banned oil companies from releasing wastewater into the environment, but made an exception for the arid West. If livestock and wildlife can use the water, companies can release it. Cows like these grazing near a stream of waste on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming are supposedly the reason the EPA lets oil companies release their waste into the environment.
Elizabeth Shogren NPR

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 8:16 am

The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to let oil companies continue to dump polluted wastewater on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. This includes chemicals that companies add to the wells during hydraulic fracturing, an engineering practice that makes wells produce more oil.

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The Two-Way
6:52 pm
Wed July 31, 2013

Sold! First Parcels Auctioned For Future Offshore Wind Farms

The offshore wind farm in the North Sea near Borkum, Germany, is nearly complete. The Riffgat facility, seen here on June 23, includes 30 turbines, each with a generating capacity of 3.6 megawatts.
David Hecker Getty Images

Originally published on Fri August 2, 2013 4:01 pm

A Rhode Island company was the highest bidder in the federal government's first-ever auction for the right to build an offshore wind farm.

After 11 rounds, Deepwater Wind outbid two other companies for two patches of ocean off the coasts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The winning bid was $3.8 million.

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Environment
1:38 am
Thu July 25, 2013

La. Flood Board Sues Oil Industry Over Wetlands

Canals created for navigation and oil and gas pipelines cut through the marsh off the coast of Louisiana, seen in 2010.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 25, 2013 9:49 am

Since the 1930s, Louisiana has lost roughly as much land as makes up the state of Delaware.

"If you put the state of Delaware between New Orleans and the ocean, we wouldn't need any levees at all," says John Barry, vice president of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East. "There is this large buffer of land that has disappeared, and that buffer makes New Orleans much more vulnerable to hurricanes."

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Animals
4:16 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

Nevada Wildfire Could Snuff Out A Rare Butterfly

The Mount Charleston blue butterfly is a rare species found only in a few small areas high up in Nevada's Spring Mountains.
Corey Kallstrom USFWS

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 5:10 pm

A big wildfire in a mountain range just west of Las Vegas has put at risk the Mount Charleston blue butterfly, a rare species found in the U.S.

The fire is dying down, but it may be weeks before experts can get to the remarkable area where this butterfly lives to see if it made it through.

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The Two-Way
4:15 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

EPA Building Named For Bill Clinton; He Says That's Fitting

Former President Bill Clinton hugs House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California as another Democrat, Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, looks on at Wednesday's ceremony naming the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters for him.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Wed July 17, 2013 5:11 pm

The environment may not come to mind when most people think about former President Bill Clinton, but on Wednesday he defended his legacy as the Environmental Protection Agency's headquarters in Washington, D.C., was renamed in his honor.

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Poisoned Places: Toxic Air, Neglected Communities
2:55 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

Baton Rouge's Corroded, Overpolluting Neighbor: Exxon Mobil

An evening view of the Exxon Mobil oil refinery complex in Baton Rouge, La.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Fri June 21, 2013 7:50 am

If you stand in front of Almena and Sidney Poray's house in Baton Rouge, La., and look straight down the street, past the other houses and the shade trees, you see more than a dozen plumes of exhaust in various hues of gray and white.

"That's something you see every day, the same thing if not more," says Almena Poray. "Sometimes it's a darker gray; sometimes it's a black smoke coming out."

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