Dearen named AP reporter in Gainesville, Fla.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jason Dearen, an environmental reporter for The Associated Press, has been appointed correspondent based in Gainesville, Fla., where he will focus on northeast Florida and the environment beat.

The appointment was announced Tuesday by AP South Editor Lisa Marie Pane and Florida News Editor Terry Spencer.

Dearen, who has been with the AP in San Francisco since 2006, has regularly produced accountability journalism that has led to numerous state and federal actions and policy changes. His investigation into a forgotten California mine that was belching mercury-laced water into a rural community's stream spurred a cleanup by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Dearen's reporting also shed light on how federal mismanagement of public lands in the American West was allowing illegal land speculation by a Goldman Sachs-owned solar company. After the stories, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management voided the company's land claims in Nevada. Most recently, Dearen's reporting explained how oil companies were quietly fracking in the ocean off California's coast. After the stories, federal oversight rules for fracking in the seas off California were changed to require companies to report the release of fracking chemicals into the ocean.

"Jason is a tenacious journalist with a depth of knowledge about the environment that will be well-tapped in a place like Florida," Pane said. "Florida has a rich tapestry of environmental news — from offshore drilling and fracking to the politics of the environment."

As a member of AP's national environment beat team in 2010, Dearen helped cover the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, breaking stories including the existence of a massive underwater oil plume discovered by researchers in Florida.

Before joining the AP, Dearen covered courts at The Oakland Tribune, where he was the lead reporter on the Scott Peterson death penalty trial for the MediaNews newspaper chain, winning the Associated Press News Executives Council's spot news award for his coverage.

Dearen, 43, is a native of suburban Los Angeles. He graduated Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism in 2002, and received a bachelor's in English and American literature from San Francisco State University in 1996.

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