Best longreads 2020

Our top 5 long reads of 2020

In-depth reporting that you do not want to miss.

We've made it to the final week of 2020—a big accomplishment in a year that felt never-ending.

With the holidays here, you may have a little more time to relax. Wondering what to do with that time? We've got you covered.


Kick up your feet, grab a mug of your favorite hot drink and settle in to catch up on our top five long reads of the year. From the ocean floor to the forests of North Carolina to the blustery North, below are our top investigations and features.

1. Unplugged: Abandoned oil and gas wells leave the ocean floor spewing methane

Gulf of Mexico oil and gas drilling

The Gulf of Mexico is littered with tens of thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells, and toothless regulation leaves climate warming gas emissions unchecked.

2. How Europe’s wood pellet appetite worsens environmental racism in the US South

An expanding wood pellet market in the Southeast has fallen short of climate and job goals—instead bringing air pollution, noise and reduced biodiversity in majority Black communities.

3. ‘Them plants are killing us’: Inside a cross-border battle against cancer and pollution

Air pollution Sault Ste. Marie Ontario

Two communities — one in Canada, one in the U.S. — share both a border along the St. Marys River and a toxic legacy that has contributed to high rates of cancer. Now the towns are banding together to fight a ferrochrome plant.

4. Microplastics in farm soils: A growing concern

Researchers say that more microplastics pollution is getting into farm soil than oceans—and these tiny bits are showing up in our fruits, veggies, and bodies.

5. Exempt from inspection: States ignore lead-contaminated meat in food banks

Hunter-donated meat provides crucial protein to US food banks. But an EHN investigation found a lack of oversight that could result in potentially hundreds of thousands of lead-contaminated meals this year.

Banner photo: The Algoma steel plant after sunset, in Sault Ste., Marie, Ont., on Friday, Jan., 17, 2020. (Credit: Christopher Katsarov Luna/EHN)

Become a donor
Today's top news

Chemicals linked to birth defects are being dumped in Pittsburgh’s rivers: Report

Chemicals linked to cancer and developmental harm are also released in large quantities into the city’s three rivers.

Chemical recycling grows — along with concerns about its environmental impacts

Industry says chemical recycling could solve the plastic waste crisis, but environmental advocates and some lawmakers are skeptical.

From our newsroom

Universities are failing us

Our educational systems are failing to prepare people for existential environmental threats

Peter Dykstra: The good news that gets buried by the bad

On the environment beat, maybe it’s right that the bad news dominates. But the good news is out there, too.

LISTEN: Ashley Gripper on growing food to fight systemic oppression

“They never felt more resilient, more confident, more grounded in terms of their mental health, than they did when they were growing food.”

Peter Dykstra: Does climate action need a king?

Tradition could silence Charles III’s passionate voice on climate change. But should it?

The Titans of Plastic

Pennsylvania becomes the newest sacrifice zone for America’s plastic addiction.