Grantee reporting shows failure to address pollution – and sparks resignations of three officials

Fugitive emissions captured by an infrared camera at the Elk Hills Power Plant in Kern County, California. Image: Earthworks.

In a series for Capital & Main supported by the Fund, reporter Aaron Cantu, a fellow with Type Investigations, found that state and federal efforts to reduce air pollution in California’s San Joaquin Valley may not be working. For the year-long investigation, he examined public records, interviewed residents and experts, and worked with organizations who use specialized emissions-capturing cameras. The pollution from oil and gas emissions is among the worst in the country, and it poses a serious health risk to people who live in the area. After the story was published, three local air district public representatives resigned, explaining that Cantú’s reporting further revealed the emissions reduction system to be a “sham” and that business interests were prioritized over public health.