Kathleen Sutcliffe's Blog Posts

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Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog

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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.

View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
10 March 2011, 5:16 PM
Gas drilling and air quality in Wyoming
Pinedale Anticline Natural Gas Field, Upper Green River Valley, Wyoming. Photo Courtesy of SkyTruth.

Which has a worse smog problem ? The car-choked sprawling megalopolis of Los Angeles? Or the wide open plains of Wyoming?

If you guessed LA, you’d be wrong. It’s actually Wyoming.

This depressing tidbit comes courtesy of the oil and gas industry, which is in the midst of a drilling boom that has left the air in Wyoming and other areas cloaked in smog and hazardous air pollutants.

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16 February 2011, 4:55 PM
Actor Mark Ruffalo and GASLAND Director Josh Fox speak out on gas drilling
Mark Ruffalo, flanked by Gasland Director Josh Fox and Gasland Producer Trish Adlesic at the film's DVD release party in December

As Oscar season enters full swing, two nominees are taking a break from the action in Hollywood to visit Washington, D.C. tomorrow (Thursday) and educate the public and members of Congress about the dangers of gas drilling. Director Josh Fox is up for a Best Documentary award for GASLAND, a searing indictment of the hazards associated with the controversial gas extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) – in which drillers blast millions of gallons of chemically treated water into the earth to force gas from underground deposits.

Fox is joining Best Supporting Actor nominee Mark Ruffalo, whose home in New York's Catskill Mountains is in the path of an gas drilling rush in the Northeast, to make the case on Capitol Hill that Congress needs to step in and protect public health and the environment from risks associated with gas development.

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27 January 2011, 11:10 AM
Fracking travels from the little screen to the big screen and back again
Josh Fox's critically acclaimed documentary GASLAND was nominated this week for an Academy Award for Best Documentary.

I don’t want to jinx anything, but we’re positively thrilled to see GASLAND—the truth-telling/irreverent film about toxic gas drilling—get an Oscar nod for best documentary. If you haven’t seen it yet, what are you waiting for? It’s readily available on DVD. And there are more and more community screenings being organized every week.

Apparently industry’s none too happy about the Academy Award nomination. And, as you can tell from this indulging piece in the New York Times, they’re pretty unembarrassed about coming across as total spoilsports.

Well, if I was an oil and gas executive, I’d be peeved too. The ugly truth about this controversial form of gas drilling—known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”—has been getting lots of screen time, from Josh Fox’s critically acclaimed documentary to an episode on the popular CBS crime show CSI.

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30 November 2010, 6:33 PM
State Assembly Approves a Time-Out on Fracking

New Yorkers should be proud of their lawmakers today.

On their first day back in session, members of the New York State Assembly voted to approve a temporary moratorium on the controversial form of gas extraction known as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking." (No word on whether Jay Z's "Empire State of Mind" was blasting in the halls of the Capitol during the late-night vote.)

This shows that leaders in New York are taking seriously the concerns associated with fracking—a technique in which millions of gallons of chemically-treated water are blasted into the earth to force gas from underground deposits.

The bill, already approved by the state Senate, now heads to outgoing Gov. David Paterson for his signature. Unfortunately, the governor has been sending mixed signals about whether or not he will sign the bill into law. If you live in New York state, now would be a good time to call Gov. Paterson at (518) 474-8390 and urge him to do the right thing before he leaves office.

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12 November 2010, 5:49 PM
Controversial gas drilling technique hits primetime television

Art imitated life on CBS's hit crime show CSI last night. The episode, titled "Fracked," delved into the water-polluting form of gas drilling in which millions of gallons of chemically-treated water are blasted into the earth to extract gas from underground deposits.

The episode summary goes like this:

Two men are murdered right before exposing a natural gas company for poisoning residents in a farming town, and the CSIs must discover who is responsible for their deaths.

It's fiction, of course. But parts of the plot line were lifted straight from the headlines: poisoned wells, flaming faucets, sick people, dying animals, silenced residents. The scriptwriters even took care to include expository dialogue explaining how hydraulic fracturing is exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act. Very true. And very scary.

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13 October 2010, 2:36 PM
We want to know. Preferably before the next oil spill
Third-generation shrimp fisherman Clint Guidry. Credit: Matthew Preusch/Gulf Restoration Network

Yesterday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazer lifted the moratorium on deepwater oil drilling and declared the Gulf of Mexico "open for business."

We presume he was talking to the folks at BP, Exxon, and Shell—not so much to shrimp fishermen like Clint Guidry.

Like his father and grandfather before him, the 62-year-old Guidry has worked in Louisiana's shrimp industry for most of his adult life. But he simply doesn't know what the future holds for the family business.

A lot depends on the chemicals used as so-called dispersants in the wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon spill this summer. Did the 1.8 million gallons of chemicals dumped into the Gulf of Mexico send toxic-coated oil droplets tumbling from the water's surface and into the same areas of the ocean where Guidry's catch feed and spawn? Will it make the ocean creatures sick? What about the people who eat Gulf-caught fish?

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07 October 2010, 12:43 PM
Turns out he wants to keep cleaning product chemical info a 'surprise'
Failed presidential candidate/mock talk show host Stephen Colbert wants to rumble

When Stephen Colbert's ultra conservative Comedy Central character declares you as being part of the nanny state, you know you're doing something right.

Last night, the mock talk show host aired a segment on Earthjustice's campaign to enforce a 40-year-old New York state law and associated regulations requiring manufacturers of household cleaners to reveal the chemical ingredients in their products and any health risks they pose.

"Way to spoil the surprise!" Colbert shouted, likening the effort to other pesky consumer protections he despises: baby seats and motorcycle helmets.

He then vowed to derail the initiative, declaring, "Nation, we're not going to take this sitting down. We're going to take it standing—on top of a step ladder, throwing a lawn dart at a drum of DDT." (Read more to watch the video.)

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14 September 2010, 6:35 PM
Flaming tap water is usually not a good sign
Flaming tap water, as seen in the critically acclaimed documentary Gasland

The fight to protect communities from the water-polluting form of gas drilling known as horizontal hydraulic fracturing (or "fracking") is moving quickly on several fronts, both local and national.

This week, officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are wrapping up a multi-city public hearing tour on the controversial gas extraction technique—in which drillers blast millions of gallons of chemically-treated water into the earth to force the gas from tightly packed shale deposits.

To give you an idea of how high interest has been: the last of these hearings - being held tomorrow in Binghamton, NY - had to be postponed last month after officials realized they didn't have a space large enough to accommodate the expected 8,000-person crowd. EPA is collecting the testimony heard at these meetings to inform the agency's much-needed study into fracking's impact on drinking water.

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30 July 2010, 2:25 PM
Under our current chemical law, it’s kind of unavoidable
Is this family an unwitting research subject in a chemical industry experiment?

I don't ever remember checking a box giving anyone permission to pollute my body with mysterious chemicals. I'm guessing you don't either.

But because of our weak chemical safety law, you and I are being exposed to toxic chemicals without our consent. The law that should be protecting us—the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA)—doesn't require chemical makers to prove the 80,000 chemicals made in the U.S. are safe before they end up in the everyday things that make up our lives—from the receipts in your wallet to the food packaging in your cupboard, from the jewelry around your neck to the sofa in your living room.

That's why this week Earthjustice and the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families coalition launched a series of ads to remind members of Congress that it's up to them to pull the plug on this unregulated experiment and get to work fixing our nation's chemical law.

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16 June 2010, 2:55 PM
Still waiting to see what’s in their products besides baking soda

Do you buy Arm & Hammer cleaning products? I used to.

I have to admit, there's something strangely comforting about that old-fashioned image on the side of their baking soda box. I associated it with, I don't know, something wholesome, like making pancakes with my Dad on Sunday morning. And when I got old enough to buy products to clean my own home, those happy memories buried deep in my brain propelled me to the Arm & Hammer section of the cleaning product aisle, silently commanding me to hoist that yellow bottle of laundry detergent into my cart.

At some slightly more conscious level, I was thinking 'If they make cooking ingredients, their cleaning products have to be safe, right?'

Well maybe. But here's the thing: We asked Arm & Hammer to disclose the chemical ingredients in their cleaning products as required by a New York State law.

They refused.

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