WyoFile reporter Angus M. Thuermer Jr. won a second-place prize in the Society for Environmental Journalists’ national reporting contest for his series on a proposal to discharge pollutants into Boysen Reservoir and the Wind River.
The SEJ contest bills itself as the world’s largest and most comprehensive environmental journalism competition. The 2020 contest saw 499 entries — more than any in its 19-year history.
Thuermer took second place, small newsroom division, in the Kevin Carmody Award for Outstanding Investigative Reporting for his in-depth series that followed an oilfield expansion proposal in central Wyoming.
Thuermer’s examination of the proposal revealed that it would permit Aethon Energy to dump millions of gallons a day of tainted water into a reservoir that provides drinking water to the town of Thermopolis. In the series that followed, he “dug deeply into what might have been a routine state permit for dumping oilfield waste into protected waters,” contest judges wrote.
“Thuermer’s stories tracked how regulators’ jargon hid acceptance of flawed industry assurances and the likelihood of degraded water quality,” the judges’ comments read. “The stories stirred public opposition, and ultimately EPA criticism forced the state to withdraw the permit. The series demonstrated the power of challenging assumptions.”
(The Moneta Divide issue continues to evolve. Just last week the Bureau of Land Management approved the proposed project, which still needs state approval for the surface discharge of water to go forward.)
The award is well-deserved recognition for the veteran journalist and a huge honor for WyoFile, Chief Executive and Editor Matthew Copeland said.
“With it, our colleagues nationwide are largely reflecting what Wyoming has known for years: That Angus’s tireless reporting is a public treasure and an irreplaceable service to our community,” Copeland said. “We are all indebted to WyoFile’s members and supporters whose contributions make his and all of our other uncompromising journalists’ work possible.”
It’s not the only 2020 accolade Thuermer nabbed for the permit series. He took second place in the prestigious Best of the West contest for the reportage, and was part of a WyoFile team that garnered 20 Top of the Rockies awards for various stories.
Thuermer, who joined WyoFile in 2014, has a long history in Wyoming journalism. Though he came to the state in the early ‘70s to climb, he began working in the press room of the Jackson Hole News in 1978. That led to a career as a reporter, photojournalist and editor that spanned more than 40 years, most of them as editor of the Jackson Hole News and Jackson Hole News&Guide.