Sharon Kelly

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Sharon Kelly is an attorney and freelance writer based in Philadelphia. She has reported for The New York Times, The Guardian, The Nation, National Wildlife, Earth Island Journal, and a variety of other publications. Prior to beginning freelance writing, she worked as a law clerk for the ACLU of Delaware.

Pipeline that Exploded in Pennsylvania Part of Push to Build Fracking-Reliant Petrochemical Network

Read time: 5 mins
Pipeline explosion

Just before dawn Monday morning, Chuck Belczyk thought a jet had crashed near his home roughly 25 miles outside Pittsburgh — until he heard the sound of hissing gas.

And that’s when it all hit us what was happening,” Belczyk told NPR’s State Impact. “You knew the pipeline went.”

Avenue Capital’s Plans to Revive West’s Largest Coal-Fired Power Plant Spark Protests from Navajo Nation Members

Read time: 6 mins

Protesters arrived outside the offices of a private equity firm run by a billionaire closely tied to the Clinton family on Monday, urging the company to abandon plans to keep a 44 year-old coal fired power plant on tribal lands running five years past its scheduled shut-down.

How Supreme Court Pick Brett Kavanaugh Could Return US Policy to the Era of Robber Barons

Read time: 8 mins
Brett Kavanaugh

As Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination hearings get under way, understanding his appointment’s potential impacts for corporate regulation and the climate means looking back all the way to 1890.

That was when a nearly 50-year stretch known to legal historians as the “Lochner era” kicked off — a time better known in U.S. history as the age of the robber barons.

Scott Pruitt’s Unjustified Personal Security Cost Taxpayers Over $3.5 million: EPA Audit

Read time: 4 mins
Scott Pruitt

You, the American taxpayer, spent over $3.5 million providing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt with an unprecedented round-the-clock security detail — and that security force may have been operating both outside of the law and without justification.

That’s the message the EPA’s internal watchdog has for American taxpayers after concluding an audit of the environmental agency's security protocols from September 2016 to May 2018.

First Felony Arrests Near Bayou Bridge Construction Made Under New Louisiana Law Penalizing Pipeline Trespass

Read time: 4 mins
L’eau Est La Vie protest camp sign

Karen Savage, an award-winning investigative reporter, did not expect to be arrested as she covered Energy Transfer Partners’ controversial construction of the Bayou Bridge pipeline through Louisiana's Atchafalaya Basin, a river swamp bigger than the Florida Everglades.

We were on land that the pipeline company doesn’t even claim to have,” she said, adding that she had permission in writing from the property owner to be there. “I didn’t think there was really any risk at all.”

Fracking Wastewater Spikes 1,440% in Half Decade, Adding to Dry Regions’ Water Woes

Read time: 7 mins
Permian Basin, Texas, pumpjacks

Between 2011 and 2016, fracked oil and gas wells in the U.S. pumped out record-breaking amounts of wastewater, which is laced with toxic and radioactive materials, a new Duke University study concludes. The amount of wastewater from fracking rose 1,440 percent during that period.

Over the same time, the total amount of water used for fracking rose roughly half as much, 770 percent, according to the paper published today in the journal Science Advances.

China Threatens 25% Tariffs on US LNG in Trump Trade War Escalation

Read time: 7 mins
Donald Trump

China threatened to slap U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports with a 25 percent tariff on August 3, escalating a trade war by threatening an industry closely allied with President Donald Trump and potentially benefitting a $55 billion Russian gas pipeline project.

The $60 billion in proposed retaliatory tariffs, which are also aimed at the metals, lumber, and agriculture industries, could have significant impacts for U.S. LNG export plans — and for the domestic shale gas industry, which has struggled to turn a profit and which has staked its hopes for years on hopes of selling gas from wells drilled and fracked in the U.S. to buyers abroad at higher prices.

UPDATED: Retired Schoolteacher Sentenced to 2-6 Months After Sunoco Claims She Violated Court Order in Mariner East Pipeline Dispute

Read time: 8 mins
Ellen Gerhart

On Tuesday, July 26, Sunoco Pipeline L.P. filed paperwork with a Pennsylvania court claiming that retired special education teacher Ellen Gerhart, 63, had violated an injunction. Three days later, Gerhart was arrested and jailed.

After being held on $25,000 bail for a week, Ellen Gerhart was on Friday, August 3 sentenced to two to six months by Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas Judge George Zanic.*

Sunoco Pipeline obtained a right of way through the Gerharts’ land using the controversial legal doctrine of eminent domain, which allows private companies to seize land people refuse to sell that’s in the planned path of a pipeline project.

In the complaint that led to her jailing, Sunoco claimed Gerhart interfered with construction by, among other things, luring mountain lions and bears onto her property.

Did Plans to Export US Ethane Help Fund Accused Russian Spy Maria Butina?

Read time: 7 mins
Accused Russian spy Maria Butina

Much has been made of the ties between the National Rifle Association (NRA) and alleged Russian spy Maria Butina after the Justice Department unsealed a criminal conspiracy complaint against Butina on July 16. The investigation seems to have centered largely on whether Butina sought to use the NRA to funnel funds to the Trump campaign.

But Butina’s own funding could raise troubling new questions about President Donald Trump, centering in part on a multi-billion dollar deal signed in 2017 to export ethane, a plastics feedstock, from America to China.

Critics Challenge 'Fundamental Flaws' in Energy Department LNG Export Study Draft

Read time: 5 mins
LNG tanker

The Department of Energy (DOE) missed the mark in its newly published draft Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) study, ignoring economic costs associated with climate change and the growth of the renewable energy industry, dozens of national and grassroots environmental groups said in public comments filed with the DOE on Friday.

In June, the DOE published a draft study that predicted expanding LNG exports worldwide could double American natural gas prices by 2040 — but that would carry relatively limited costs to the overall economy.

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