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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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.

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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.

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02 September 2011, 2:38 PM
That’ll go by faster than you can say ‘flaming faucets’

Next week, New York State is planning to release a 1,000+ page document that could guide how the controversial gas drilling technique, called fracking, will proceed in the state.

Hydraulic fracturing, fracking for short, occurs when oil and gas companies blast millions of gallons of chemically-treated water into the ground to force oil and gas from tightly-packed shale deposits.

2 Comments   /  
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22 July 2011, 12:48 PM
More than 20,000 messages on PA pipeline catch EPA attention

If—as an Earthjustice supporter and activist—you ever wondered whether your letters and emails to government officials had an impact, we've got news that should give you heart.

Reporters are writing about the 22,093 messages sent by supporters like you, demanding a thorough environmental review of a proposed 39-mile natural gas pipeline that threatens prime forest lands and streams in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania. And, politicians are standing with you.

Officials at the Environmental Protection Agency are pressing pipeline regulators to conduct a thorough environmental review of the project—and citing the number of messages you sent as the reason.

4 Comments   /  
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24 May 2011, 1:09 PM
Same as other new mothers: Googling BPA + baby bottles
Jessica Alba supports the Safe Chemicals Act. Photo courtesy of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition.

In the quiet moments after her two-year-old daughter has gone to bed, actress Jessica Alba scours the Internet in search of how to protect her children from toxic chemicals in consumer products.

Like so many other parents, she’s distressed by what she finds: BPA in baby bottles, lead and cadmium in toys, formaldehyde in furniture.

“Our children are being used as the testing animals,” she realized.

Which is why Alba, now pregnant with her second child, made the trip to Washington, D.C. today. Along with mothers from across the country, she is asking members of Congress to reform our nation’s outdated chemical policy and shift the responsibility from overburdened parents to the companies who make these chemicals.

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11 May 2011, 1:38 PM
House committee hearing leaves this and many other questions unanswered

In a hearing on Capitol Hill today, Republican members of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee struggled to make the case against an investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency into the controversial gas drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) - a process in which oil and gas companies blast millions of gallons of chemically treated water into the earth to extract the gas from underground deposits.

Considering the agency is already midway into its multi-year study, the move comes across as more than a little desperate. What is industry so scared of the American public finding out? If fracking isn’t dangerous, what does industry have to hide? And if fracking poses no threat to drinking water, why does industry need an exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Act?

All good questions. But those weren’t the questions committee Republicans were asking.

1 Comment   /  
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21 April 2011, 5:42 PM
Second verse, same as the first

The symmetry is just eerie.

Exactly one year after the BP disaster in the Gulf, natural gas drilling company Chesapeake admitted that a well it was hydraulically fracturing (or “fracking”) for natural gas went out of control in LeRoy, Pennsylvania late Tuesday, spilling thousands and thousands of gallons of frack fluid over containment walls, through fields, farms – even where cattle continue to graze – and into a stream.

(For those new to the issue, hydraulic fracturing is a controversial gas extraction technique in which companies blast millions of gallons of chemically treated water into the earth to break up the rock and force out the gas. Lots more info on fracking is here.)

As of publication time, the well was still leaking.

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14 April 2011, 1:48 PM
Anything worth doing is worth doing really quickly
Ready? Set? Drill! Photo from Flickr user purplemattfish

The Associated Press had a story today detailing how regulators in Pennsylvania spend as little as 35 minutes reviewing gas drilling permits, before giving companies approval to blast millions of gallons of chemically treated water into the earth to extract the gas – a controversial practice known as fracking.

Across the country, gas production using fracking has been linked to contaminated drinking water, exploding wells, mysterious animal deaths and other unsettling incidents.

The information came to light because of a lawsuit challenging a permit issued to drill in the Delaware River Basin – an area that supplies drinking water to more than 15 million people in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

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12 April 2011, 4:23 PM
Fracking-fueled gas rush is cause for concern
Waste pond at fracking site. Photo courtesy citizenscampaign.org

In a hearing, today, lawmakers on Capitol Hill probed the health and environmental impacts of a gas drilling boom fueled by the controversial gas extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking. Using this technique, companies blast millions of gallons of chemically treated water into the earth to force natural gas from underground deposits.

In recent years, oil and gas companies have begun clamoring for access to regions of the country that are unprepared for this scale of industrial gas drilling. Along with this fracking-fueled gas rush have come troubling reports of poisoned drinking water, polluted air, mysterious animal deaths, industrial disasters and explosions.
Hydraulic fracturing is currently exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act, so oil and gas companies are only required to comply with a patchwork of state regulations. And thanks to a loophole in the Clean Air Act for oil and gas companies, drilling areas in Wyoming now have worse air quality than Los Angeles.

13 Comments   /  
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11 April 2011, 3:42 PM
Guess it's time for yet another industry rebranding campaign...
Fracking drill operation. Photo courtesy of ens-Newswire

Natural gas has been touted as a more responsible energy source than coal in the face of climate change, but a new study conducted by researchers at Cornell University argues otherwise.

The study, which is scheduled to be published in the journal Climatic Change Letters, argues the advantages that gas produced from fracking has over coal are offset by the fugitive emissions of methane gas.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas with a impact far greater than carbon dioxide, especially in the first few decades following emission. The study found that the extraction of shale gas—the deposit that energy companies are targeting with their controversial technique known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”—has climate impacts comparable to coal over 100 years and could be twice as severe over a 20-year horizon.

The key concern here is the increased amount of fugitive methane gas that goes into the atmosphere from fracking sites as compared to conventional gas drilling.

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15 March 2011, 1:28 PM
Bill in Congress would end chemical secrecy loophole in Safe Drinking Water Act

Forgive me for stating the obvious, but secret gas drilling chemicals don’t belong in drinking water.

That’s exactly the kind of sentiment that makes it very inconvenient for Dick Cheney’s buddies at Halliburton who want to use secret chemicals to extract gas from the earth – a controversial method known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.”

You see, the pesky Safe Drinking Water Act kept getting in the way. So they asked for special treatment from Congress. And in 2005 they got it.

But today, members of Congress said, “Enough is enough,” introducing bills in both chambers of Congress that would close the Halliburton loophole in the Safe Drinking Water Act.

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11 March 2011, 2:30 PM
The rest of us left wondering: is that even constitutional?
Meet Bradford Energy CEO C. Alan Walker. He calls the shots.

Fresh off his state’s radioactive river scandal, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has once again landed in hot water (no pun intended) over a line in his proposed budget which hands the energy executive he appointed to head the state's economic development agency "supreme" decision-making power to fast-track gas drilling permits in the state.

The man who would be king is Bradford Energy CEO C. Alan Walker (no word on whether he's related to a certain Wisconsin governor). He’s given $184,000 in campaign contributions to Corbett (naturally). Also worth noting is that Corbett took more gas industry contributions than all his competitors combined during his recent election.