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.

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.

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
25 March 2011, 9:39 AM
Lead gardens, oil-covered lies, hot flash chemicals
Nuclear power has come under scrutiny in recent weeks. Photo courtesy of redjar.

Nuclear power industry experiences public fallout
As the nuclear crisis in Japan worsens, concerns about nuclear power's safety are spreading, prompting news agencies to take a second look at the inherently risky technology. As the Christian Science Monitor recently reported, last year U.S. nuclear plants had at least 14 “near misses” that occurred with “alarming frequency” and jeopardized human safety. In addition, Mother Jones recently created an eye-opening chart that lists the location of nuclear plants across the country and their proximity to nearby cities using data from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Despite these concerns, many of the world's governments remain largely unphased, except Germany, which has stepped up to the plate by declaring its plans to stop using nuclear power. Sehr gut!

Senator Jeff Bingaman throws gas on oil-drilling lies, lights a match
While many politicians are busy peddling the false claim that the U.S. must drill more to bring down gas prices, last week Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) broke with the ranks by declaring that domestic policies like carbon and oil drilling regulations have little to no effect on the price at the pump, reports Grist. That's because oil prices are set on the global market, which is much more affected by things like, say, Middle East unrest. This indisputable fact has led Bingaman to the remarkably frank conclusion that to “ease the burden of high prices for U.S. consumers when oil prices are determined mostly outside our borders...[we need to] become less vulnerable by using less oil.”

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11 March 2011, 1:16 PM
Tsunami-sized warnings, bullet train shout-outs, NJ fracking ban
Would you like a bag for that? Del Monte now sells single-serve bananas wrapped in plastic. Photo courtesy of viZZZual.com

Del Monte sells individually wrapped bananas
Last week, processed food giant Del Monte unveiled its latest product invention, a single banana wrapped in plastic, reports the Globe and Mail. The move, not surprisingly, drew ire from many who point out that the banana already has its own, biodegradable wrapping, the peel. Ironically, Del Monte told reporters that the new product is being marketed as a green initiative due to the plastic’s “controlled ripening technology” which will up the banana’s shelf life and reduce landfill waste—albeit not the biodegradable kind. On The Daily Show, Comedian Jon Stewart recently pointed out the absurdity of the idea by hawking his own equally absurb mock invention, the coconut-protected coconut case.
 
New Jersey lawmakers ban hydraulic fracturing
This week, New Jersey lawmakers approved a bill that bans hydraulic fracturing, a widely controversial gas drilling practice that's contaminated water supplies to the point where residents near gas wells are able to set their faucet water on fire, reports NJ Spotlight. Though no drilling is currently happening in the Garden State, the move sends a clear message that state lawmakers have "grave concerns" about the process, said Sen. Robert Gordon (D-Bergen), the bill's sponsor. Currently, Earthjustice is working to keep hydraulic fracturing out of New York where oil and gas companies are hungrily eyeing the geologic formation known as the Marcellus Shale.

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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.

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25 February 2011, 3:17 AM
Nuclear dilemmas, thin mint massacre, airborne heart attacks
Maine Gov. Paul LePage recently said that in a worst case scenario BPA exposure may give women "little beards." Photo courtesy of anthonyturducken.

EU moves forward on chemical regs while U.S. gets bearded females
The European Union recently announced that it will ban six toxic substances under its Registration, Evaluation, Authorization & Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) program, reports Chemical & Engineering News. The landmark move, which includes phasing out three plastic softening chemicals and a flame retardant, stands in stark contrast to the U.S.'s chemical romance, particularly with the controversial chemical, Bisphenol A (BPA), a plastic additive that messes with people's hormones and is found in levels twice as high in Americans than in Canadians. But not to worry, says Maine's Gov. Paul LePage. The worst that could happen is that BPA exposure might cause women to start growing "little beards." 

Breathing dirty air triggers more heart attacks than doing cocaine
This should perk you up. Researchers have found that breathing dirty air triggers more heart attacks than doing cocaine, reports Reuters, a scary notion considering that you can't exactly avoid air pollution unless you want to walk around all day in a gas mask. The U.S. EPA recently issued new rules that will limit air pollution from industrial boilers and incinerators, but we still have a long way to go in cleaning up our air. Declare your right to breathe clean air today.

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18 February 2011, 5:00 AM
Breathing rights, Windy City soot, climate change meddling
Drop that soda! It may give you cancer. Photo courtesy of fimoculous.

Soft drinks' light hue may have a dark side
Soft drinks have been under heavy scrutiny lately for their use of aspartame, a fake sweetener that, though calorie-free, may just also give you cancer. Unfortunately, that's not the only carcinogen found in pop (or soda, if you're the coastal type). A recent Center for Science in the Public Interest report unveiled that achieving that caramel brown hue seen in most beverages involves heating a chemical soup of ingredients that creates a carcinogenic chemical called 4-methylimidazole, reports Grist. Add that to the fact that most pop is found in BPA-laden aluminum cans and you just may want to switch to water—the kind from the tap, of course

Americans confirm that they love breathing
Americans are having a love affair with breathing, according to a recent American Lung Association study. Despite Republicans' best efforts to prove otherwise, the public wants the EPA to clean up our air and also wants Congress to butt out of the process, reports Grist. And it's not just Democrats who feel this way. Independents and even a majority of Republicans support strengthening air quality standards. That's why Earthjustice is working hard to defend our clean air standards. Because everyone has a right to breathe

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11 February 2011, 6:37 AM
Radiated bird brains, Clorox cleaning, peak oil Wikileaks
A recent USDA decision allows farmers to plant genetically modified sugar beets. Photo courtesy of Uwe Hermann.

USDA gives Big Ag some sugar in GE beet decision 
In a move that directly contradicts the finding of a U.S. federal judge, last week the Department of Agriculture said that farmers could start planting their genetically modified sugar beets, reports the New York Times, despite concerns raised over GE crops by environmental and organic groups. The decision to allow farmers to plant the beets before a (legally required) environmental impact assessment was conducted was most likely brought on by fears that blocking the crops’ planting would result in a sugar shortage, an odd concern for a country who's known to have a bit of a sweet tooth

Clorox freshens up stance on ingredient disclosure
Hooray! This past Tuesday, cleaning company Clorox announced it would allow consumers to know just what’s in all of those cleaners and cleansers, reports the LA Times. The announcement comes after sustained pressure by environmental and health groups, including Earthjustice, which argue that consumers have a right to know what’s in their toilet bowl cleaner. After all, sunlight is the best disinfectant.

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04 February 2011, 2:54 PM
Snowstorm pickles, nuclear fallout, Frankenfeed
An EPA proposal suggests that humans should no longer be used as guinea pigs in pesticide experiments. Photo courtesy of Jean Scheijen.

EPA proposes strict rules on pesticide testing
The EPA recently proposed strict rules meant to keep pesticides manufacturers from paying people to eat or drink pesticides, enter pesticide vapor "chambers," or have pesticides sprayed in their eyes, reports FairWarning. The proposal, spurred on by a 2010 court settlement between Earthjustice clients and the EPA, will essentially make it harder for the chemical industry to use people as guinea pigs, hopefully resulting in fewer of these tests occurring in the first place.

Multiple "Snowmageddons" put cash-strapped cities in a pickle
As New England and the Midwest shovel their way out of the latest snowstorm, penny-pinching government employees are coming up with unusual ways to de-ice their roads. This past week, administrators in Bergen County, New Jersey have started using pickle juice to combat the ice and snow, reports Time magazine. It turns out that the salty solution is much cheaper than road salt and works just as well at keeping cars from sliding off the roads. Meanwhile, the city of Boston continues to pile up with so-called "snow farms," basically huge piles of snow dumped in vacant lots.

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27 January 2011, 1:04 PM
Twelve bad men, Gasland spotlight, green spies
Polar bears use ice floes, which are rapidly melting due to climate change, to search for food. Photo courtesy of Florian Schulz.

Polar bear swims hundreds of miles in effort to survive
In a testament to the rapidly deteriorating conditions that polar bears face in a changing climate, researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey recently discovered a polar bear that swam nonstop for more than 200 hours and 400 miles, reports the BBC. The epic journey in the Beaufort sea was most likely necessary due to an increase in melting sea ice, which polar bears travel on to hunt prey. In addition to losing 22 percent of her body fat during the journey, the mama polar bear also lost something that's truly irreplaceable, her baby cub. Check out Earthjustice's Irreplaceable campaign to find out how these Arctic symbols and others are being impacted by climate change.

Rolling Stone profiles the climate change dirty dozen
What do Sarah Palin, Bjørn Lomborg and Fred Upton (R-MI) have in common besides a penchant for making grandstanding remarks? They're also three of 12 people blocking progress on global warming, reports Rolling Stone. Some of the dozen's tactics include: attacking the EPA, giving reputable climate scientists the third degree, spreading disinformation about global warming and just plain lying to the American public. Unfortunately, their laughable efforts to mislead us are actually being taken seriously by some, and in the process risking all of our future.
 

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21 January 2011, 10:35 AM
Canned mercury, dirty Apples, pollution-seeking sweatshirts
Protesters against hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale. Photo courtesy of Marcellus Protest.

Celebrity disses hydraulic fracturing
Forget traipsing around a creepy island with Leonardo DiCaprio. Actor Mark Ruffalo recently went on a much more daring crusade in his latest roll as a passionate environmental advocate speaking out against the practice of hydraulic fracturing, according to HuffPo. After attending an NYC event called "Fracking and Its Effects: A Panel Discussion," Ruffalo told HuffPo in an exclusive interview that risky technologies like fracking will lead to "greater degradation…and greater catastrophes," urging people to speak out on the issue. Visit Earthjustice's Web site to see how you can help put the brakes on fracking.

High-tech sweatshirt detects air pollution
A pair of NYU grad students with a flair for combining fashion and science have created a high-tech sweatshirt that features an image of pink lungs whose veins turn blue after coming in contact with air pollution, reports the NY Daily News. A tiny carbon monoxide sensor embedded in the shirt can pick up air pollutants from a range of sources, like cars and second-hand smoke. At $60 a pop, it's unlikely that the shirts will be mass produced any time soon, but in the meantime the shirts make quite the fashion statement.

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13 January 2011, 4:12 PM
Appalachia rising, no pants day on the subway, BP bad boys
CIA analysts believe the U.S. is ill-equipped to deal with climate change impacts. Photo credit: Tim.Simpson, Flickr

Secret agents discover climate change preparedness hole
Military officials, CIA analysts and outside experts believe that the U.S. government is ill prepared to act on climate changes "that will threaten to bring instability to places of U.S national interest," reports McClatchy Newspapers. Bureaucratic infighting and a lack of funding are just two reasons for this lack of preparation by the intelligence community. Though there's hope that the creation of the CIA Center on Climate Change and National Security is a good first start in closing that information gap, Republican efforts to cut the year-old program may mean that the climate change spies get shut down before they even have time to whip out their night vision goggles and fingerprint dust.

Appalachia wins in mountaintop removal veto
Today the EPA announced its veto of the Spruce No. 1 Mine, a mountaintop removal operation in Appalachia, reports Mother Jones. The agency revoked a Clean Water Act permit for the mine after concluding that allowing the mine to dump its waste into nearby waterways would cause "irreversible damage to the environment." The win is both a symbolic and substantive one for the communities of Appalachia, and is proof that the EPA is finally listening to the public outcry over mountaintop removal, such as the 38,000 letters and comments that Earthjustice supporters sent in asking the EPA to stop MTR's destructive practices.