Hood spent a full week working in Durango to find out how and why 3 million gallons of contaminated wastewater were released into the southwest Colorado waterway.
“The situation changed hour by hour, minute by minute,” said Hood, who worked 12- to 15-hour days to not only gather the facts but explore the science, politics and social implications of the incident in more depth. Her efforts laid the groundwork for the CPR News digital team’s examination of the Gold King Mine, as well as a look at waterways statewide affected by abandoned mines.
“This in-depth coverage is exactly what CPR’s beat reporting on important topics like energy and the environment is meant to do,” said Hood, whose journalistic portfolio includes coverage of the 2012 Colorado wildfires and the 2013 Colorado floods. She came to CPR after six years reporting for KUNC and has received numerous awards for her investigative and feature reporting.
The Iowa native and outdoor enthusiast enjoys a challenge—whether it’s hiking a fourteener or producing news stories with that critical balance of scientific detail and humanizing context.
“Colorado has a big energy industry and a lot of wilderness and environmental resources, so energy and environment are critical topics in our state,” she said. “From fracking conflicts to low oil prices to greater sage grouse conservation—the list of environment-related issues goes on and on, and they’re definitely Western issues.”
Looking ahead, Hood will have the chance to connect these issues to the national dialogue around energy and environment, as she represents CPR News in NPR’s Energy and Environment Collaborative Reporting Project. NPR recently selected 12 reporters from member stations across the country to work together to cover energy and environment issues from a local perspective, telling stories directly from the communities where lives are affected.
“This project is a great opportunity for us to look more deeply at human behavior and climate change in Colorado,” Hood said. “For example, climate change impacts the ski season. What else?”
She’s looking forward to this opportunity to work with NPR editors and collaborate with public radio reporters across the nation.
“It’s going to be fantastic,” she said.