Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

Two Minute Tips

Resources for covering the energy and sustainability beat

June 27, 2016

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The sustainability movement often makes headlines, but not always for its impact on businesses.

Here are four resources to explore when reporting on energy and sustainability from a business perspective.

Get to know energy

The United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) should be your first stop when looking for data.

The organization tracks U.S. energy sources, as well as how we use them.  The EIA collects monthly reports, status memos and surveys discussing each of America’s energy sources in depth — helpful data when digging for story ideas. For example, why is our demand for natural gas rising? Why are gas prices increasing and what can consumers expect to pay in the next month?

Another unique feature on the site is the downloadable geography section that lets you browse through national and international data. This section can help you to determine things such as how much energy other countries produce. You can even see where your state ranks in energy consumption.

Look into efficient solutions

If you want to look into clean energy, as well as technologies being used in the future to make energy more efficient, energy.gov will likely help.

The site looks into things such as how businesses are reducing their operating costs by implementing more energy-efficient techniques. Also, you can research what types of federal tax credits and local and state incentives businesses in your area receive.

For another angle, use the interactive map to pin down the average energy expenditure per person in the U.S. You can localize this data and compare it state-by-state or in historical terms.

Explore the facets of environmental energy programs

The Bureau of Energy Management offers a trove of information related to marine mineral resources and the development of offshore assets. BOEM can help journalists look at energy development research and projects in their state.

For instance, how do offshore wind developments affect California’s tourism industry? How are infrastructure needs being addressed along the Pacific West Coast?

If your state isn’t on the organization’s list, find out why.

BOEM also gives the public a platform to voice their opinion on issues such as environmental programs on gas and oil. These comments could help spark a story about the proposals and programs in your area.

Find out why climate matters

Varying climates can have a ripple effect from an energy and sustainability perspective. Climate.gov looks into the impact climate change has, including on businesses.

The site includes a variety of case studies, which reporters can use to dish up some unique story angles. For example, how is climate impacting the Maine fishing community? And what effect does limited water from the Colorado River have on farmers and energy producers?

Sustainability” by Flickr user “mark.seymour” CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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