Sammy Roth

Environmental journalist

Palm Springs, California

Sammy Roth

Reporting on energy, water and climate for The Desert Sun and the USA TODAY Network in Southern California.



In the California desert, a farmer builds a water, energy empire

The full story of Mike Abattiā€™s enormous influence has never been told. Until now.

In Wyoming wind, a conservative billionaire sees gold

Philip Anschutz wants to build America's biggest wind farm and send the electricity to California.

The one big problem with Obama's clean energy legacy

The White House says solar and wind are booming on public lands, but its numbers are misleading.

A Trump vs. California fight nobody's talking about

Trump says he wants more solar and wind power in the desert. Environmentalists aren't buying it.

For $35M battery, public agency turned to former board member

The Imperial Irrigation District rejected three cheaper offers before awarding the $35-million contract.

Solar developer got sweet farmland deal from public agency

The Imperial Irrigation District gave a favored developer a big discount, possibly losing out on millions.

Public agency paid for 'opposition research' on local solar firm

The Imperial Irrigation District had private investigators scrutinize the public agency's loudest critic.

Scoop: Tesla offered $325 million for Salton Sea startup

The letter from Elon Musk left no doubt about his intentions: He wanted Simbol Materials.

Jerry Brown and Warren Buffett want to rewire the West

Their plan could save billions of dollars and slash climate pollution. Critics worry it would backfire.

Who will profit from the grid of the future?

Would Jerry Brown's plan reduce energy bills? Or would it just mean higher profits for Warren Buffett?

The new climate rallying cry: keep it in the ground

Climate activists hope to end coal, oil and natural gas extraction on public land.

Trump could help radio magnate build cell towers in desert

Would undoing a conservation plan make it easier to build wireless internet infrastructure?


Sammy Roth

I'm a journalist based in Southern California, where I cover energy and the environment for The Desert Sun and the USA TODAY Network. My work has focused on renewable energy in the West, conservation and energy development on public lands, decision-making by electric utilities and utility regulators, and climate change impacts including intensifying droughts and wildfires. My reporting on financial conflicts of interest at a public utility, the Imperial Irrigation District, has resulted in more than $80 million in canceled solar and energy storage contracts.

I joined The Desert Sun in 2014, after graduating from Columbia University with a degree in sustainable development and American studies. I also served as editor in chief of the Columbia Daily Spectator.

In 2017, I was a finalist in the annual IRE Awards honoring the best in investigative journalism, for my coverage of financial conflicts of interest at the Imperial Irrigation District. Also in 2017, I won first place in the annual Best of the West competition's environmental journalism category, for an eight-part series on climate change that I co-reported with my colleague Ian James. Several of my stories have been recognized by the Press Club of Atlantic City's National Headliner Awards and the California Newspaper Publishers Association, including "Rewiring the West," a three-part series on the future of the western power grid.

I've discussed my reporting on Marketplace, C-SPAN and several NPR member stations, including KPCC in Los Angeles. My work is featured regularly in USA TODAY. I also write a weekly email newsletter for USA TODAY, called Climate Point, about climate change, energy and the environment. Sign up by going to