Jessica Knoblauch's Blog Posts

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

Jessica Knoblauch'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.


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.

Jessica Knoblauch is Earthjustice's Content Producer / Associate Editor and creator of the unEARTHED blog, "Friday Finds," which highlights some of the most remarkable or ridiculous eco news tidbits of the week. Jessica enjoys writing about environmental health issues and believes that putting toxic chemicals into our bodies and into our environment is generally unwise. In her free time, Jessica can often be found at the other end of the leash of her two dogs, Emma and Charlie, messing around in her garden, and eating fine Midwestern cuisine like deep-dish pizza, pork tenderloin sandwiches and, of course, corn.

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
06 January 2011, 2:57 PM
Discount parks, fishy trees, banned bags
Light pollution across the U.S. Photo courtesy of NASA.

 Americans see the light on night bright cities
Approximately 300 counties, cities and towns are beginning to see the light on excessive light pollution by enacting so-called dark-sky legislation that's supported by treehuggers and army brats alike, reports USA Today. Light pollution doesn't just keep you up past your bedtime. Over the years, studies have accused light pollution of causing everything from animal disturbances to bungled military drills and increased air pollution, not to mention all that energy that's being wasted by keeping the lights on when nobody's home.

Labor Department buries Massey Energy mine
This week the Department of Labor dug up a long-forgotten enforcement tool to use against Massey Energy, a repeat-offender of mine safety regulations that made headlines last April when an explosion at its Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia killed 29 people. According to NPR, the Labor Department used a section of federal mining law known as "injunctive relief" to force a settlement against Massey's Freedom Mine #1 in Kentucky that will require the company to observe enhanced safety precautions, among other things. Check out Earthjustice's Stop Mountaintop Removal Mining campaign to find out how you can eliminate the need for companies like coal-mining companies like Massey in the first place.

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29 December 2010, 4:00 PM
Terminator vs. greens, salty roads, oil spill probes
Sharks are targeted for their fins to make shark fin soup. Photo courtesy of

Congress puts the kibosh on shark fin soup
Last week, Congress adopted legislation to curb shark finning, the practice of chopping off a shark's fins and dumping the finless shark back into the water, all so that people can dine on shark fin soup, reports the Washington Post. Though shark finning is currently banned off of the Atlantic Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico, the bill will protect sharks off of all U.S. coasts by requiring vessels to land sharks with their fins attached, helping to restore endangered shark populations.

Oil spill probe undermined by conflict of interest
The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board has alleged that the investigation into the cause of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has been tainted because Transocean and Cameron, two companies with a stake in the investigation's outcome, have been allowed to participate in the examination. Allowing these two companies is a bit like asking a bank thief to help investigate a robbery that he/she was involved in, but there's no word yet on whether the allegations will be taken seriously. In the meantime, Earthjustice is working hard to make sure those guilty of causing the biggest environmental disaster in the U.S. are held accountable.

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23 December 2010, 11:45 AM
EPA ash sitting, mama pig abuse, food safety victory
The HSUS recently released a video on sow abuse at Smithfield farms. Photo courtesy of garwee,

Oil spill sand berms saturated in failure
Miles of sand berms built to protect the coastline during the Gulf oil spill that cost millions of dollars were a huge waste of money, according to a presidential oil spill commission. During the spill, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal strongly insisted on having the berms, despite scientists and federal agencies raising concerns over the berms' potential effectiveness. Yet, as the Associated Press quoted coastal scientist Rob Young as saying, the berm effort has so far done little more than draw "a pencil line of sand." Ouch.

EPA sluggish on coal ash regulations
Two years after the Tennessee coal ash spill released more than 1 billion gallons of toxic coal slurry that destroyed homes and the area's livelihood, the EPA is still "sitting on its ash," reports Mother Jones. Despite EPA administrator Lisa Jackson's pledge early on to investigate coal ash sites, there is still no regulation of coal ash dumps, an unsettling fact that has prompted Earthjustice and others to call on the EPA to finally protect the public from the dangers of coal ash.

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17 December 2010, 10:29 AM
Drugged livestock, Chernobyland, wolverine wait listing
Wolverines will have to wait for the protection they deserve. Photo courtesy of Lory Joly at

Leaked email reveals Fox News' climate change bias
Nonprofit media research center Media Matters recently came across an email showing that a top Fox News official ordered staff to cast suspicion on any mention of climate change science during their news reports, reports the Guardian, explaining that "it is not our place as journalists to assert such notions as facts, especially as this debate intensifies." With this latest revelation, it's no wonder then that a recent survey found that Fox News viewers are "significantly more misinformed than consumers of news from other sources."

Wolverines told to get in line for endangered species protection
Despite being fierce hunters, wolverine populations are on the decline, enough so to be considered endangered by federal wildlife officials, reports the Associated Press. Still, thanks to a backlog of other species that are in more imminent danger, the largest member of the weasel family won't be reaping the benefits of endangered species protection anytime soon. Instead, they'll need to get behind other species on the list, whose numbers total in the hundreds.

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15 December 2010, 4:37 PM
Extensive shoreline development stalled by court victory
Lake Tahoe photo courtesy EPA

As a child, Earthjustice client Michael Donahoe spent many early mornings waterskiing along the west shore of Lake Tahoe. The lake was so clear that he could see a hundred feet down into its depths.

"It was a glassy, beautiful, blue lake," said Donahoe. "The boulders that were down there, it looked like you could reach out and touch them."

Today, Lake Tahoe's famed clarity has been clouded by increased human activity and urban development that has degraded the lake's air and water quality. Though the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency's duty is to protect and restore the lake, it has instead acquiesced to private developers by downplaying existing regulations.

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10 December 2010, 2:14 PM
EPA timidity, climate change bullying, butter-flavored flame retardants
BPA was recently discovered in cash. Photo courtesy of stock.xchng

BPA found in cash
BPA, that ubiquitous, hormone-disrupting chemical that's made its way into everything from baby bottles to can liners, can now also be found in money, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. A study released by Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families found that 21 out of 22 $1 bills contained small amounts of BPA, which has been linked to cancer, diabetes and neurological problems. And since BPA is also found in cashier receipts, it might be time to cash in on the dollar.

EPA spooked by industrial polluter bogeymen
EPA suddenly is dragging its feet on implementing a whole host of new clean air rules, from regulations on soot and toxic emissions from industrial polluters to limitations on smog, reports Grist. The new rules, brought on by Earthjustice litigation, would cost pennies to implement compared to the billions in annual health benefits they're expected to deliver, but thanks to intense industry pressure it looks like for the time being clean air advocates will be left holding their breath.

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03 December 2010, 12:03 PM
Sugar beet death sentence, pinko sustainability plots, carbon cap piggy bank
Dow Chemical and others have been accused of spying on Greenpeace. Photo courtesy of

Judge orders GMO sugar beets to be ripped from the ground
Citing the potential for environmental harm, a federal judge in California has ordered farmers in Oregon and Arizona to rip up hundreds of acres of genetically modified sugar beets, reports the Associated Press. The ruling stems from an Earthjustice lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which issued permits for Monsanto's GM, Roundup Ready sugar beets without first determining what kinds of effects the genetically modified crops could have on other foods.

Greenpeace accuses corporations of playing spy games
Greenpeace is suing chemical giant Dow Chemical and others for alleged corporate espionage, reports the Washington Post. The environmental activist group, which has taken on such corporate giants as McDonalds, Coca Cola, and Monsanto, accuses the companies of hiring spies from 1998 to 2000 to "perform a range of 'clandestine and unlawful' actions to undermine its anti-pollution efforts against the chemical industry," including stealing confidential records and even sending phony volunteers to illegally record calls and hack security codes.

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24 November 2010, 1:15 PM
Idling laws, inconvenient climate truths, radiating trees
Wi-Fi radiation may be making trees sick. Photo courtesy of, Auro Queiroz

California's chemicals law gets tangled in toxic debate
With toxic chemicals regulations set to go into effect in January, manufacturers and advocacy groups are going head to head over how California should implement the landmark law, according to the Washington Post.

Advocates of the law say the regulations are too weak, while industry claims otherwise—a similar predicament that's also found in New York, where Earthjustice litigation recently resulted in state legislators requiring household cleaner manufacturers to begin disclosing their products' chemical ingredients and health risks.

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19 November 2010, 12:32 PM
Plastic parody, sewage-sucking trees, smog baby wipes
California recently adopted a law that requires cleaning companies to reduce their smoggy ingredients.

Plastic looks not so fantastic in parody rap video
On the heels of LA's new law banning single-use plastic bags, spiritual advocacy group Green Sangha recently released an anti-plastic bag rap video parodying Jay Z's "Empire State of Mind," reports Grist. Here's one tidbit that's musically on message: "Skip the bag, the cup and the spork, dude, convenience can kill you…ban bags made of plastic." See the rest of the video below.


Trees step in to suck up nation's sewage problem
Anyone who's spent time in New York knows that the city, well, stinks. But it's not just the overflowing garbage and mass of sweaty, hurried people. During heavy rainstorms, Manhattan's decrepit sewage system often discharges untreated storm-water and sewage into local waterways, a problem that's mirrored across the country, reports The Economist. But instead of building more pipes, NYC and other cities are planting trees and rooftop gardens to help suck up rainfall, green the city and raise property values, all under a lush canopy of leaves.

Window sprays and toilet bowl wipes to clean up smog
California recently adopted a regulation that requires about 2,000 household cleaning products, which contain smog-producing compounds known as VOCS, to be reformulated to help clean up the state's smogginess, reports Environmental Health News. The new law's effects are expected to reverberate across the nation, much like New York's recently enforced healthy cleaners law, which requires household cleaning companies to come clean on the health effects of their chemical ingredients. With any luck, Mr. Clean may soon look more like Mr. Green.

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11 November 2010, 2:08 PM
Strange bedfellows, cheesy marketing schemes, hot dog humans
Starving grizzly bears are increasingly clashing with humans over food. Image courtesy of stock.xchng

Enviros and drillers become fracking bedfellows in regulator debate
New York's Department of Environmental Conservation is so ill-prepared to regulate gas drilling in the state that both the gas industry and environmental organizations agree that the department should be re-staffed, according to an investigation by the DC Bureau. That, in addition to a number of other environmental challenges that gas drilling presents, should make for quite a fracking mess for New York's next governor, Andrew Cuomo, when he arrives in the office on Jan. 1.

Department of Agriculture takes the cheese
Fast food chains like Domino's Pizza and Taco Bell are piling cheese onto their products to boost consumer sales, all at the urging of the USDA, according to a recent New York Times piece. The agency's marketing creation, Dairy Management, charged with "vigorously promoting" dairy products, has been working with businesses to increase American cheese consumption by creating cheese-strosities like the Domino's Wisconsin, a pizza that comes with six cheeses on top and two stuffed in the crust. Apparently the agency didn't get its own memo, which found that when it comes causing obesity and heart disease, the cheese stands alone.

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