Contamination at Oklahoma farm highlights oil industry's neglect

Oklahoma farm suffers extensive environmental damage as local family battles oil companies over contaminated land and water sources.

Mark Olalde, reports for ProPublica, and Nick Bowlin for Capital & Main.


In short:

  • Salt water leakage from an oil well on the Ledgerwood's farm killed vegetation and contaminated their drinking water.
  • The family struggled to get accountability from oil companies, which often evade cleanup costs through bankruptcy.
  • The estimated cleanup cost for Oklahoma's unplugged wells is about $7 billion, with insufficient funds set aside by the oil industry.

Key quote:

"We don’t get these years back. There’s no way to pay for that. We’ll never have back what we had."

— Stan Ledgerwood, Oklahoma farmer

Why this matters:

The contamination of land and water can lead to a cascade of adverse effects, not just on the immediate agricultural output but also on local wildlife and ecosystems. The potential seepage of pollutants into groundwater, for example, poses a significant risk to human health, affecting communities' access to clean drinking water.

Related: Dead livestock and poisoned water — Texas farmers sue over PFAS contamination

environmental justice

LISTEN: Revisiting our conversation with environmental justice pioneer Dr. Beverly Wright

“The righteous fight in the end will win. Don’t be swayed by all of the noise.”

Today we’re re-airing our conversation with Dr. Beverly Wright, who joined the Agents of Change in Environmental Justice podcast last year to discuss her journey as an environmental justice pioneer.

Keep reading...Show less
Senator Whitehouse & climate change

Senator Whitehouse puts climate change on budget committee’s agenda

For more than a decade, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse gave daily warnings about the mounting threat of climate change. Now he has a powerful new perch.
Amid LNG’s Gulf Coast expansion, community hopes to stand in its way
Coast Guard inspects Cameron LNG Facility in preparation for first LNG export in 2019. (Credit: Coast Guard News)

Amid LNG’s Gulf Coast expansion, community hopes to stand in its way

This 2-part series was co-produced by Environmental Health News and the journalism non-profit Economic Hardship Reporting Project. See part 1 here.Este ensayo también está disponible en español
Keep reading...Show less
extreme heat disaster designation
Credit: VladisChern/BigStock Photo ID: 198752527

Labor and environmental groups push FEMA to classify extreme heat as a major disaster

A coalition of labor, environmental, and healthcare organizations is urging FEMA to classify extreme heat and wildfire smoke as major disasters, aiming to unlock federal funds for community protection and worker safety.

Manuela Andreoni reports for The New York Times.

Keep reading...Show less
eu nature restoration law
Credit: catcha/BigStock Photo ID:456142131

Austria’s last-minute support enables EU Nature Restoration Law

After months of deadlock, the EU's Nature Restoration Law passed, driven by a crucial change of heart from Austria.

Marta Pacheco reports for Euronews.

Keep reading...Show less

Canada passes Bill C-226 to combat environmental racism

Canada's new Bill C-226 aims to develop a national strategy to address environmental racism and ensure affected communities are part of the solution.

Denise Balkissoon reports for The Narwhal.

Keep reading...Show less

Pipeline project faces tribunal over environmental and Indigenous rights violations

The Mountain Valley Pipeline, now operational, was recently condemned at a "rights of nature" tribunal for infringing on environmental and Indigenous rights.

Hannah Chanatry reports for Inside Climate News.

Keep reading...Show less

Supreme Court ruling could impact environmental policies

The U.S. Supreme Court's upcoming decision on the Chevron doctrine could significantly affect environmental regulations, including those on pollution and climate change.

Jody Freeman writes for Yale Environment 360.

Keep reading...Show less
From our Newsroom
nurses climate change

Op-ed: In a warming world, nurses heal people and the planet

Nurses have the experience, motivation and public support to make an important contribution in tackling the climate crises.

planetary health diet

This diet will likely keep you alive longer — and help the planet

New research finds the Planetary Health Diet lowers our risk to most major causes of death.

environmental justice

LISTEN: Jose Ramon Becerra Vera on democratizing science

“In their own way, they’re becoming experts, not just of their experiences but also of the data collection process.”

The oil and gas industry’s radioactive problem: Q&A with Justin Nobel

The oil and gas industry’s radioactive problem: Q&A with Justin Nobel

“Of all the levels of radium in produced water or brine around the world that I’ve looked at, I have encountered none that are consistently as high as what comes out of the Marcellus Shale.”

Stay informed: sign up for The Daily Climate newsletter
Top news on climate impacts, solutions, politics, drivers. Delivered to your inbox week days.