Posts by kathrynlong

By Nuria Saldanha, Kat Long and Rai Chakravarty

U.N. climate discussions in Paris this week have touched on the need for cleaner energy technology to replace oil and coal, two of the most polluting fossil fuels that also contribute to global warming. The U.S. is the biggest consumer of fossil fuels and the biggest producer of crude oil in the world. According to data compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, American crude oil production is at its highest level since 1985, at 13,973 barrels per day—more than Saudi Arabia.

U.S. production has increased in response to fewer imports of foreign oil. Yet overall, production has slowed in response to oversupply. Americans are consuming less petroleum and coal and more gas and renewable energy. This story will explore the different forces, such as abundant natural gas recovered by fracking, that affect crude oil production in the U.S. The piece will also look at how the current push toward developing cleaner energy resources might affect oil production and consumption.

Using data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, this story will employ a map of the U.S. to show crude oil production by state. Users will be able to click on states to see the barrels-per-day rate for 2014, the last year for which current data is available, and the percentage increase or decrease in production since 1985. A possible second visualization will show U.S oil consumption since that year.



Crude oil production
U.S. Energy consumption
Annual energy outlook


Jonathan Cogan
Press contact, U.S. Energy Information Administration

Rahim Jiwani
Crude oil analyst

Christopher Kinney
Senior trading analyst, Statoil

Kat Long

The holiday season is the busiest time of year for air travel. According to data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, only about 75 percent of flights to and from major U.S. airports arrived on time, meaning that passengers have a one in four chance of getting to their destination late.

This data-driven story will describe the seven causes of flight delays that are tracked by the BTS. The data suggest that weather is one of the least common reasons, and that late-arriving connecting flights is most common. A bar chart or graph will show the frequency of each cause over the past year. Accompanying text will explain that the rate of each cause has remained consistent over the past decade, and experts will offer tips to holiday travelers for avoiding delays when possible.

Data source

I created a spreadsheet tabulating Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Using this online tool, I compiled the number and percentage of flight delay causes for each year between 2004 and 2014 inclusive.


Dave Smallen
Press secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics

John Lopinto
Co-Founder,, a leading website for advice and travel trends geared toward frequent flyers.

Rick Seaney
CEO of, air travel analyst and columnist
Media contact Alex Williams, online contact form:

By Núria Saldanha, Kat Long, Rai Chakravarty

From 1995 to 2014, the tax on a pack of cigarettes rose from 56 cents to $4.35, the highest state tax in the U.S. Over the same time period, the prevalence of smokers dropped to 14.5 percent, equal to 2.5 million people, the lowest on record. High taxes are “the single most effective intervention for reducing consumption” of tobacco, said Brian Kang, deputy director for research translation at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which compiled much of the data (The New York State Department of Health collected state figures.) The numbers don’t lie: when it hurts their pockets, people decide to quit.  

NY Cigarette Tax vs Smoking Rate
Create your own infographics

For every 10 percent increase in the tax, there is a 3.5 percent decrease in smoking prevalence in adults, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The advocacy group also argues that in every state that has significantly raised its cigarette tax rate, pack sales have gone down sharply, and New York is no exception.  

Although high taxes explain some of the reduction in the smoking rate, other factors also encourage people to stop smoking. Sometimes the decrease in the smoking rate doesn’t immediately affect the data. Kang said that anti-smoking campaigns in the media, access to free smoking-cessation treatments and the availability of quitlines – hotlines for smoking-cessation information and support – also help people make a decision to quit.

Some research suggests that electronic cigarettes are changing the landscape of tobacco consumption. The data, while inconclusive, show that a significant number of Americans use e-cigarettes and other vaporizing devices. In 2013, one in 10 adults, or 20.4 million individuals, had tried these products at least once, and the percentage of former smokers who have ever used e-cigarettes increased from 2.5 percent in 2010 to 9.6 percent, according to the CDC. Vape use among high school students increased from 4.5 percent in 2013 to 13.4 percent in 2014, totaling two million students in the U.S.

A 2015 poll conducted by Ipsos/Reuters showed that roughly 10 percent of adults nationwide say they use e-smoking devices.

As e-smoking become more common, advocates and physicians’ associations are calling for higher prices on the devices and stronger regulation. Many hope a high tax on e-cigarettes in New York will have the same impact on the smoking rate as taxes on  traditional cigarettes.

Nuria Saldanha, Kat Long, Rai Chakravarty

New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman announced this week that the state will finally receive its $550 million settlement from tobacco companies, ending a ten-year standoff. But surprisingly, the money will not all go toward anti-smoking programs. According to CDC and New York Department of Health data, the state’s smoking rate has dropped drastically since the nation’s highest tobacco taxes were introduced more than a decade ago.

Smoking is a major public health issue, and tobacco-related health complications are costly to families and the government. This story will explain the state’s decrease in adult smoking using CDC and DOH datasets. The CDC list tallies state tobacco legislation since 1995; the CDC and DOH data (compiled by the team from several sources) list the adult cigarette smoking rates in the state over time. The data visualization will consist of a line chart showing the relation between cigarette tax increases and the corresponding drop in New York’s smoking rate.

The text will address other smoking statistics, such as smoking-related healthcare costs in the state. Sources from the CDC and the advocacy group NYC Smoke-Free will discuss other factors that may contribute to the smoking rate decrease, such as public smoking cessation programs. We will also interview smokers and former smokers for their opinions about cigarette taxes.

Data sets:


NYS DOH (multiple sources)

Dr. Brian Kang, Ph.D., the deputy director for research translation at the CDC
Interview scheduled for this Friday at 10 a.m.

Patrick Kwan, NYC Smoke-Free Director
We are in contact to set up an interview.

Ilana M. Knopf, director of the Public Health and Tobacco Policy Center
In the process of setting up an interview.

We are looking for smokers and former smokers for interviews.