Former Park scholar Kate Sheppard '06, journalism/politics, has been producing an incredible number of articles on the Gulf of Mexico oil catastrophe as a Washington, DC-based environmental reporter-writer for Mother Jones magazine.
“We had a human rights reporter in Louisiana already, working on post-Katrina issues,” Kate explains. “And we had another environmental reporter working on the future of oceans. So they’ve switched to be concentrating on those issues from the field, and I’m working on the legislative and regulatory aspects.”
Many of her articles have been featured in the Washington Post, In These Times, the Center for Public Integrity’s website, the Washington Independent, ForeignPolicy.com, Who Runs Gov, Bitch, and other publications. Fortunately, says Kate, “I’ve never needed to sleep much.”
At Mother Jones since last September, Kate has churned out an extraordinary body of work, sometimes filing three or four pieces a day. She has been especially busy since the BP oil disaster began unfolding. “I’m covering an unfolding worldwide serious environmental disaster, the consequences of which we won’t know for a very long time. It’s very hard, very sad. The only good thing I can say about it is that now people are paying more attention to energy and environmental issues, the things I write about.”
What worries Kate about the BP tragedy is that the right people may not be paying enough attention. “I’m afraid the next big disaster,” she says, “will be Marcellus Shale.” She’s talking about the shale formation under Ithaca and huge swaths of New York, almost all of Pennsylvania, and parts of Ohio, Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia, where methane gas is being drilled using a dangerous practice known as slickwater horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” “Everyone thinks ‘natural gas’ is a clean, safe energy source,” she says. “But it’s not.”
Read Kate's recent work at