Kathleen Sutcliffe's Blog Posts

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Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog


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Everyone has The Right To Breathe clean air. Watch a video featuring Earthjustice Attorney Jim Pew and two Pennsylvanians—Marti Blake and Martin Garrigan—who know firsthand what it means to live in the shadow of a coal plant's smokestack, breathing in daily lungfuls of toxic air for more than two decades.

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ABOUT EARTHJUSTICE'S BLOG

unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders.

Learn more about Earthjustice.

Kathleen Sutcliffe is a Campaign Manager working to spread the word about the controversial form of gas development known as fracking. Born in New York City and raised in the beautiful Hudson River Valley, Kathleen is honored to work on an issue that directly impacts her friends and family back home. Kathleen got her start in the environmental movement as a teenage delegate to the Watershed Youth Summit where her school's proposal to reduce water pollution earned a shout-out from New York Times. When she's not tipping off journalists about the oil and gas industry's latest blunder, Kathleen enjoys playing saxophone in a political street band.

View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
19 August 2013, 4:37 PM
Dryden, NY featured on national television
Dryden resident Deborah Cipolla-Dennis shared her story on MSNBC. (Photo courtesy of Mary Ann Sumner)

The town of Dryden, NY has earned a spot in the national conversation about fracking.

The town’s story of fighting back against the fracking industry—and winning—was spotlighted on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris Perry Show this weekend.

With her friends and neighbors at home cheering her on, Dryden resident Deborah Cipolla-Dennis made the trek from her quiet rural home to Rockefeller Center in mid-town Manhattan to share the town’s story.

It was Deborah’s first time on television. But you wouldn’t know from her calm, cool and collected demeanor. Take a look at how she talks about her town taking on the powerful oil and gas industry:

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08 August 2013, 5:43 PM
The oil and gas industry's worst nightmare, apparently
A Pennsylvania family's spring became flammable after a Marcellus well was drilled on their property. (© J.B.Pribanic)

A while back, I was invited to a D.C. elementary school to watch 5th graders deliver a presentation about drinking water.

These students were proposing a “Water Bill of Rights” stating that people have the right to know what’s in their groundwater and that it’s safe to drink. Sounds like a good idea to me.

One group of students had done a special project—on fracking. After considering both sides of the issue, and learning that the chemicals used in fracking are often secret, many of the students decided it wasn’t a good idea. Afterwards, I asked them to tell me—in their own words—why they felt that way.

Here’s what they said:

I was reminded of that day when news of the fracking industry’s attempt to silence a 7- and 10-year-old sister and brother with a gag order went worldwide.

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01 August 2013, 11:44 AM
Whatever happened to "sticks and stones"?
Company lawyers have said they intend to enforce a lifetime gag order on a 7- and 10-year-old. (Rebecca Barray)

According to just-released transcripts in a fracking industry secrecy case, the lawyer for the gas company said the company intended to enforce a lifetime gag order on a 7- and 10-year-old, preventing them from ever talking about Marcellus Shale or fracking.

Independent legal experts interviewed by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette are shaking their heads, saying they’ve never seen a gag order like this apply to children.

The lawyer’s statement was revealed in previously sealed court transcripts, released yesterday after a lawsuit brought by the Post-Gazette. Earthjustice submitted an amicus brief in the case on behalf of doctors, scientists and researchers.

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18 January 2013, 11:21 AM
Earthjustice attorneys in court to expose industry secrets
Tap water is lit on fire, as seen in the fracking documentary Gasland.

New uncovered documents show that fracking company Range Resources persuaded the Environmental Protection Agency to drop its investigation into water contamination of a Texas home—in spite of the fact that preliminary testing showed that the company could have been responsible for cancer causing benzene and flammable methane in the family’s drinking water.

Take the time to read this very well-reported exclusive from Associated Press. It’s nothing short of infuriating to hear how industry and regulators colluded and hid the truth from this family—and the American public. From the AP article:

For Steve Lipsky, the EPA decision seemed to ignore the dangers in his well, which he says contains so much methane that the gas in water pouring out of a garden hose can be ignited.

"I just can't believe that an agency that knows the truth about something like that, or has evidence like this, wouldn't use it," said Lipsky, who fears he will have to abandon his dream home in an upscale neighborhood of Weatherford.

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19 October 2012, 3:27 PM
We file a lawsuit, state officials scramble to respond
Fracking rig.  (Bob Warhover)

Here’s what we know: Fracking is already happening in California. Based on the oil and gas industry’s own admission, there were 600 wells that were fracked in 2011 alone. Here’s what we don’t know: exactly where, when, or what chemicals the oil and gas industry is blasting into the ground during fracking.

What makes matters worse is that state regulators don’t seem to be in much hurry to tackle the problem. California, long thought of as an environmental leader, is now falling behind other states like New York, Colorado—even Wyoming—in regulating fracking. That’s why our attorneys went to court this week, filing a lawsuit to protect Californians from fracking.

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26 September 2012, 3:50 PM
Premieres December 2012

Here’s the trailer for Promised Land, a feature film directed by Gus Van Sant and starring Matt Damon that depicts the effects of the fracking boom on a small town.

It is definitely worth a watch:

Damon is cast as a likeable farmboy-turned-landman, earnestly persuading struggling farmers to lease their properties to oil and gas companies for drilling. John Krasinski (The Office) is a farmer who learns firsthand the dangerous toll of the gas drilling boom. The two square off over fracking while battling for the affections of schoolteacher Rosemarie DeWitt (Mad Men). Oscar-winner Francis McDormand plays Damon’s business sidekick.

The film was shot in Western Pennsylvania. We'd love to hear from any fractivists cast as extras. Were you on set? Drop us a line in the comments.

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29 June 2012, 2:59 PM
Live debate this Sunday featuring Earthjustice's own Deborah Goldberg

Tune in this Sunday to a debate between environmental advocates and defenders of the fracking industry.

Deborah Goldberg, Managing Attorney in Earthjustice’s Northeast office, and Katherine Hudson Watershed Program Director at Riverkeeper of Riverkeeper will be arguing that the country’s natural gas boom is doing more harm than good. They’ll be squaring off against Joe Nocera, the business-friendly OpEd columnist for the New York Times and Sue Tierney, a former Assistant Secretary for Policy at U.S. Dept. of Energy.

The debate takes place in front of a live, voting audience who will be polled before and after to determine the winner. The debate will be moderated by ABC News correspondent John Donvan.

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22 June 2012, 3:38 PM
Plaintiffs insisted that details of case be made public

After being sued by a group of families in Pennsylvania with methane-contaminated water, fracking giant Chesapeake agreed today to pay the families a $1.6 million settlement. What’s particularly noteworthy is, for perhaps the first time, the details of a fracking case are being made public.

The oil and gas industry has gotten used to operating in secret, typically forcing families to sign non-disclosure agreements before it will settle any pollution lawsuit (see this chart for more details.) But in this case, the families refused to stay quiet and insisted that details of their case be made public. That’s big news.

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05 April 2012, 5:07 PM
Matt Damon to star in new feature film about fracking

I'm not going to even try to hide my excitement at the news that Matt Damon co-wrote and is starring in a feature film, titled Promised Land, about the controversial gas development technique known as fracking. The actor has made his concerns known about fracking's link to water pollution in this two-minute spot by Working Families Party so I am extremely eager to see what kind of message a full-length feature film will deliver.

Matt Damon is also a co-founder of Water.org, and earlier this year on World Water Day, spoke about the plight of millions who lack clean water:

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01 February 2012, 2:28 PM
Apparently fracking and the First Amendment don't mix
Josh Fox, in a scene from the Oscar-nominated documentary Gasland.

It’s no surprise that oil and gas industry friendly politicians have fought to allow industry to keep secret the list of chemicals they pump underground during the fracking.

But today, they apparently decided to extend that secrecy to congressional committee activities, when members of a House Science Subcommittee on Energy and Environment refused to allow an ABC television news crew and the Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Josh Fox to film today’s hearing on groundwater contamination linked to fracking in Pavillion, Wyoming. When Fox protested, he was arrested, despite the objections of some committee members.

Earthjustice Legislative Representative Jessica Ennis was there and caught the moment on film:

As Jessica later told reporters: “The public has a right to know what chemicals oil and gas companies are pumping into the ground. And they also deserve to know which politicians are trying to protect these same companies at the expense of the people of Pavillion, Wyoming.”

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