Kathleen Sutcliffe's Blog Posts

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

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.

Coal Ash Contaminates Our Lives. Coal ash is the hazardous waste that remains after coal is burned. Dumped into unlined ponds or mines, the toxins readily leach into drinking water supplies. Watch the video above and take action to support federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash disposal.

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
06 November 2009, 12:29 PM
Scott Stringer's constituents like their drinking water the way it is
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer is known for firing on all cylinders—described by those who know him as having the stamina of the Energizer Bunny. Lately, he's turned his attention to the fact that the gas drilling industry is at New York's doorstep, clamoring for access to underground reserves and demanding the right to blast millions of gallons of chemically-treated water into the earth to extract the gas. We caught up with Borough President Stringer and asked him a few questions about his round-the-clock work on this pressing environmental concern.

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03 November 2009, 4:13 PM
Not if we have anything to say about it
A crop duster at work spraying pesticides

Today Earthjustice lined up alongside family farmers, consumers, farmworkers, fishermen, anti-hunger groups and a host of others in opposing the administration's selection of a pesticide industry insider to serve as our country's chief agricultural trade negotiator.

Deciding to oppose a nominee is not a decision we take lightly. But in this case it was the right thing to do.

When it comes to pesticides and GMOs, Islam Siddiqui has been on the wrong side of the issues too many times. His current gig—as vice president for science and regulatory affairs at CropLife America—speaks volumes. CropLife America is the agribusiness trade association whose members include Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont and Dow. It's also shorthand for how far we've strayed from sustainable agriculture practices. Putting Siddiqui at the helm certainly won't get us back on course.

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16 October 2009, 3:20 PM
Watching a gripping documentary about gas drilling, of course!

Be honest. Instead of party-hopping Saturday night, wouldn't you rather stay in? Yes? Okay then, grab some popcorn and your Slanket, tune in to Planet Green at 8 EDT, and settle in for the television premiere of Split Estate.

This important new film chronicles the consequences of the gas drilling boom in the Rocky Mountain West. It also presents a cautionary tale for those in the East, who are facing the fight of their lives as industry clamors for access to gas reserves buried in the Marcellus Shale deposit.

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14 October 2009, 2:05 PM
Earthjustice going to court over cleaning products

You spray them in the air, mop your floors with them and wash your clothes in them—but do you have any idea what chemicals are in the cleaners you use?

Probably not. And Procter & Gamble, Colgate Palmolive and other household cleaner giants want to keep it that way.The companies are fighting Earthjustice's lawsuit under a right-to-know law requiring them to disclose the chemical ingredients in their products (Mr. Clean, Lysol, Brillo, Ajax and others) and the health risks they pose.

Keri Powell in the Northeast office will soon face off against the companies' lawyers in court. She'll be outflanked 5 to 1. But she's got spirited colleagues to cheer her on. That—and the fact that the law is on her side!

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30 September 2009, 11:40 AM
Fans of the precautionary principle, read on

Imagine a day when expectant parents can paint their nurseries, stock them with playthings and baby supplies, and do it all with the security of knowing that each and every chemical in those products has been tested for health effects and found safe for their newborn.

Last night, the Obama administration got us one step closer to that shimmery non-toxic future.

At a speech in San Francisco, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson said what none of her predecessors dared say before: our current system of regulating toxic chemicals—which doesn't even allow the government to restrict the use of asbestos—is badly broken.

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25 August 2009, 3:37 PM
Gas industry has another 'fraccident'

From the hard-hitting investigative team at ProPublica comes an important story today about drinking water in Wyoming that's been contaminated by chemicals commonly used in the gas drilling process of hydraulic fracturing.

Responding to concerns from residents, scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency sampled 39 wells near the ranching town of Pavillion, Wyo (pop. 160). They found the common gas drilling chemical 2-butoxyethanol in three water wells and found traces of other contaminants in 11 more wells.

Just about the only industrial activity in Pavillion is gas drilling, or, more specifically horizontal hydraulic fracturing—in which drilling companies spike millions of gallons of water with toxic chemicals, then blast the water thousands of feet beneath the ground into horizontally drilled wells, blasting the gas out of the rock pores.

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19 August 2009, 3:08 PM
Want to keep tabs on mountaintop removal mining? Here's how.

Concerned about mountaintop removal mining? Hungry for minute-to-minute coverage of all things coal? Looking to keep the August doldrums at bay by organizing your internet browser bookmarks?

If you answered 'yes' to any of the above questions, you need to click here. Bookmark the site. Read it daily.

I've just directed you to Coal Tattoo, a blog by Charleston (WV) Gazette environmental reporter Ken Ward Jr. It's the go-to source for coverage on mountaintop removal mining that is both timely and thoughtful.

The blog celebrated its six-month anniversary this month. The occasion ushered in congratulations and praise from folks on all side of the mountaintop removal mining debate—a testament to Ken's fair and accurate reporting.

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19 August 2009, 3:06 PM
Power lines to the people don't serve clean energy sources
Power transmission lines. Photo: Department of Energy

If you look at a map showing a planned network of high-voltage power lines through West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia, you’ll notice something curious: they match up quite neatly with the region’s existing power plants.

The $1.9-billion Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH) is a pet project of two of the country’s most powerful coal producers: American Electric Power and Allegheny Energy. And they don’t seem particularly interested in making room for their counterparts in the renewable energy business.

That didn’t seem quite fair to those of us at Earthjustice. So last month we went ahead and intervened in the project’s Virginia State proceedings, hoping to help clear a space at the table for renewable energy.

We’ll keep you posted on our progress.

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28 July 2009, 1:19 PM
Imagine how drilling will alter the landscape of this special patch of earth
Photo: USGS New York Water Science Center

This piece from New York Times editorial writer Verlyn Klinkenborg on proposed gas drilling in the Catskill mountains of New York pulled at my heartstrings. To date, much of the criticism of the drilling proposals has centered on the risk to drinking water. And rightly so: while drilling for gas, companies inject millions of gallons of chemically treated water into the underground rock deposits to force the gas to the surface. The technique, known as hydraulic fracturing (or hydrofracking), can poison drinking water supplies as well as put a strain on water resources.

But Klinkenborg takes some time out to walk the riverbanks of the East Branch of the Delaware River and imagine how drilling will alter the landscape of this special patch of earth. How it will turn a small clearing in the woods into an industrial landing pad for drilling equipment. Or a simple gravel fishing path into a byway for heavy machinery.

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15 July 2009, 1:42 PM
EPA reveals locations—now it must actually regulate coal ash
A house destroyed by coal ash that spilled in December 2008 from the TVA containment pond.

It appears the old maxim "ask and you shall receive" is alive and well.

On June 18, a coalition of environmental groups, including Earthjustice, filed a Freedom of Information Act request asking the Environmental Protection Agency to make public a list of "high hazard" coal ash disposal sites across the country.

Eleven days later, we had the information in hand. The 44 sites were spread across 10 states as follows:

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