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Did the Plastic Industry Rewrite California’s Text Books? – August 22, 2011

CA Environment TextbookA California Watch report published Friday claims to have found evidence that the California state EPA allowed the American Chemistry Council to have undue influence over the drafting of the state's new environmental curriculum. According to California Watch investigative reporter Susanna Rust, a private consultant hired by California school officials in 2009 inserted a new section in the teacher's edition of the 11th-grade Mass Production, Marketing and Consumption in the Roaring Twenties textbook entitled "The Advantages of Plastic Shopping Bags," which includes… more

by: Amy Westervelt

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Hey USDA: Stop Protecting Profits and Start Protecting People – June 9, 2011


At the Monterey Aquarium's Cooking for Solutions conference last month, Dr. Loel Solomon, Vice President for Community Health at Kaiser Permanente, called the USDA non-disparagement clause one of the biggest obstacles to moving the sustainable food agenda forward in this country. The reporters in the audience looked confused. We'd all heard about state food disparagement laws (also known as "veggie libel laws") remember the Oprah mad cow kerfuffle? Industrial ag has been trying, more

by: Amy Westervelt

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Is the Plastic Industry the New Tobacco Industry? – March 23, 2011

In the 1980s and 1990s Big Tobacco, mostly led by Philip Morris, spent millions of dollars trying to stop two things they were convinced would ruin their business: regulation of smoking and how cigarettes are marketed, and the dissemination of information about the health effects of smoking. Today, a similar story is playing out around another everyday sort of product mainstream America has been led to believe is relatively harmless: plastic. In particular disposable plastics (bottled water, straws, and so forth) and plastic food packaging.

plastic bagsMary Anne Enriquez

When the tobacco industry wanted to gain control over the messages the public was… more

by: Amy Westervelt

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Green and Switch – December 8, 2010

Last-minute back-room meetings derailed California's Green Chemistry Initiative

Green ChemistryBack in 2008, everyone cheered when California's Governor Schwartznegger signed two bills (AB 1879 and SB 509) known collectively as the Green Chemistry Initiative. Dozens of environmental and public health nonprofits set to work laboring alongside state representatives over the course of two years to craft regulations that would tighten oversight of the 80,000-odd chemicals on the market (currently only 1500 are regulated). Physicians for Social Responsibility joined with the Sierra Club, the Environmental Working Group, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and several other groups in a collaborative prcess that resulted in the "final" regulations released… more

by: Amy Westervelt

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New York Passes Six-Month Fracking Moratorium – December 2, 2010

Fracking New York

It's a story we've seen played out in so many climate- and energy-related stories: In the absence of federal leadership on natural gas--more specifically hydraulic fracturing, the controversial practice used to get at natural gas trapped under large shale rock formations--state and local legislators are taking matters into their own hands. In November, the city of Pittsburg moved to ban natural gas drilling within its city limits. Granted, no one was actually planning to drill in downtown P-burg, but it was a symbolic gesture, given the increasingly heated debate over how… more

by: Amy Westervelt

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