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unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

Friday Finds: Walmart Extinguishes Flame Retardants

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04 March 2011, 9:49 AM
LA biking bonanza, radioactive water supplies, Republican foam parties
Walmart recently put the kibosh on allowing flame retardants in any of its products. Photo courtesy of samantha celera.

Walmart blazes trail in banning flame retardants
Fed up with feds dragging their heals on banning a controversial flame retardant, retail giant Walmart recently enacted its own ban, reports the Washington Post. Known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs, this class of chemicals is found in everything from pet supplies to furniture and electronics, and has been linked to liver, thyroid and reproductive problems. Though the Environmental Protection Agency has listed PBDEs as a "chemical of concern," it has yet to ban them. Walmart may not be the greenest of companies, but its latest move is testament that it plans to uphold the second half of its motto, "Save Money. Live Better."

Bike lanes to take over Los Angeles
Spurned by an incident last year where a cab driver's rude behavior caused him to fall off of his bike and break his elbow, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa recently signed legislation to implement a bicycle master plan that calls for the creation of 1,680 miles of interconnected bike lanes, reports Grist. The plan, which will start with the addition of 100 miles of new lanes per year over the next five years, will be funded in part from a half-cent sales tax increase. The move is sure to help green LA's notoriousl image as a city full of bumper-to-bumper traffic and smoggy air.

Natural gas environmental woes run deep
In its latest investigative series, Drilling Down, the New York Times investigates the many risks that come with "fracking," a method of natural gas drilling that involves blasting millions of gallons of water laced with toxic chemicals into the ground to extract natural gas. One of its findings, that fracking's extremely lax regulations often result in radioactive water supplies, comes as no surprise to environmental groups like Earthjustice, which have long argued that the industry largely polices itself, much to the public's detriment. According to the Times' investigation, out of 200 natural gas wells in Pennsylvania, 42 of them exceeded the federal drinking water standards for radium.

Foam plastic coffee cups make a comeback in Congress
Not content with attempting to bar the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases, mountaintop-removal mining and a whole host of other environmental problems, earlier this week Republican members of congress set their sights on eliminating compostable coffee cups in the U.S. Congress building, reports the Guardian. The eco-friendly cups have been replaced with foam plastic coffee cups, indestructible forces that are laced with chemicals and wreak havoc on the environment. Now that plastic cups are back, the Republicans next target is to nix Obama's efforts to phase out inefficient light bulbs. It looks like it's light out for sustainability.

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