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Karen Hobbs, Senior Policy Analyst, Chicago

Karen Hobbs
I live in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood with my husband and our 3-year-old daughter. I went to graduate school at the University of Chicago, and even though I spent five years in Washington, DC with the Clinton Administration, my heart has always been here. Now we live in the Logan Square neighborhood, where we can walk to the El, parks, restaurants, our community garden and a farmers market. My work at NRDC is about protecting the Great Lakes, with a focus on water conservation and efficiency and green infrastructure. I came to NRDC after overseeing the development of the Chicago Climate Action Plan as the First Deputy Commissioner of the City of Chicago’s Department of Environment; before that, I worked for the Chicago-based Center for Neighborhood Technology.

Recent Posts

Toledo's Drinking Water Crisis

Posted August 4, 2014 by Karen Hobbs in Curbing Pollution, Environmental Justice, Health and the Environment, Living Sustainably, The Media and the Environment, U.S. Law and Policy

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Toledo residents can breathe a sigh a relief today after a two-day drinking water ban was lifted.  Early Saturday morning, Toledo’s 500,000 residents (and 30,000 residents of southwestern Michigan) were told to stop using tap water after unsafe levels of toxins,...continued

Small Business Owners Want Clean Water Protections

Posted July 23, 2014 by Karen Hobbs in Curbing Pollution, Environmental Justice, Green Enterprise, Health and the Environment, Living Sustainably, The Media and the Environment, U.S. Law and Policy

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80 percent of small business owners favor restoring federal clean water protections to streams and wetlands, according to a new poll.  These are some of the very waterbodies that the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers propose...continued

Great Lakes Beaches -- Working Together, We Can Make Them Safer and Cleaner

Posted June 25, 2014 by Karen Hobbs in Curbing Pollution, Environmental Justice, Health and the Environment, Living Sustainably, U.S. Law and Policy

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Beach days are summer rites of passage, especially here in the Great Lakes.  Pack up a picnic, towels, sunscreen, and you’re good to go.  Oh, wait.  Did you remember to check to make sure your favorite beach is safe for...continued

Broad Support for Clean Water Protection Rule: Farmers and Small Business Owners

Posted May 6, 2014 by Karen Hobbs in Curbing Pollution, Environmental Justice, Green Enterprise, Health and the Environment, Living Sustainably, The Media and the Environment, U.S. Law and Policy

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In March, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers proposed a new Clean Water Protection Rule, an action that will restore clear protections to many small streams and wetlands that clearly are covered under the Clean Water Act (you can...continued

Cheers to protecting the streams and wetlands that make great beer possible

Posted March 25, 2014 by Karen Hobbs in Curbing Pollution, Environmental Justice, Green Enterprise, Health and the Environment, Living Sustainably, The Media and the Environment, U.S. Law and Policy

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As craft brewers know, you can’t make great beer without clean water.  And you can’t guarantee clean water without having safeguards in place that protect small streams and wetlands from pollution.  For more than a decade, that’s been pretty tough...continued

Winnetka Stormwater Tunnel: What About The Other 99 Percent of Pollution?

Posted March 12, 2014 by Karen Hobbs in Curbing Pollution, Environmental Justice, Health and the Environment, Living Sustainably, The Media and the Environment, U.S. Law and Policy

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Confirmation bias is selectively using facts that support one’s position while ignoring the ones that don’t.  The Winnetka Home Owners Association (WHOA) is using confirmation bias to support its claims that stormwater does not contribute to beach closures in Winnetka. ...continued

Let's Not Wait Any Longer to Update Illinois' Plumbing Code

Posted March 2, 2014 by Karen Hobbs in Environmental Justice, Health and the Environment, Living Sustainably, The Media and the Environment, U.S. Law and Policy

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Plumbing codes set minimum requirements for the design and construction of the household fixtures and appliances we use everyday.  Their primary purpose is to protect public health and safety, but because they specify how many gallons of water should be used every time a...continued

Standing on Science to Protect Clean Water

Posted December 18, 2013 by Karen Hobbs in Curbing Pollution, Environmental Justice, Health and the Environment, The Media and the Environment, U.S. Law and Policy

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I’ve spent the last three days (along with my NRDC colleagues and other clean water experts) listening to more than two dozen scientists debate questions such as: are tributary streams, wetlands and open waters physically, chemically and biologically connected to downstream waters (spoiler...continued

Brewers Continue Their Fight for Clean Water -- Will You Join the Fight?

Posted December 3, 2013 by Karen Hobbs in Environmental Justice, Green Enterprise, Health and the Environment, Living Sustainably, The Media and the Environment, U.S. Law and Policy

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Members of the Brewers for Clean Water campaign continue to fight for clean water -- and this morning saw two important developments in their efforts.  The first is that a number of brewers sent a letter to President Obama, applauding his Administration for...continued

Seattle Expands its Leadership on Green Infrastructure ... Where's EPA?

Posted October 29, 2013 by Karen Hobbs in Curbing Pollution, Environmental Justice, Green Enterprise, Health and the Environment, Living Sustainably, The Media and the Environment

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I’m in Seattle today and, as always, am struck by the natural beauty that surrounds this city.  It’s easy to feel inspired at almost every turn. It’s also easy to be inspired by how the city continues to embrace the...continued

Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Making Big Plans for Green Infrastructure

Posted October 29, 2013 by Karen Hobbs in Curbing Pollution, Environmental Justice, Green Enterprise, Health and the Environment, The Media and the Environment, U.S. Law and Policy

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Chicago architect Daniel Burnham famously said, "Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work."   The folks at the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage...continued

Brewers Demand Action for Clean Water

Posted June 12, 2013 by Karen Hobbs in Curbing Pollution, Environmental Justice, Green Enterprise, Health and the Environment, Living Sustainably, U.S. Law and Policy

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Earlier today, 20 members of NRDC's Brewers for Clean Water campaign sent a letter to America's most visible home brewer -- President Obama —urging him to move forward on long-delayed safeguards under the Clean Water Act. Few small businesses depend on...continued

Cheers to Brewers for Clean Water

Posted April 9, 2013 by Karen Hobbs in Curbing Pollution, Health and the Environment, Living Sustainably

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Today, NRDC announced a new partnership with craft brewers called “Brewers for Clean Water" to highlight the importance of clean water and the Clean Water Act. We are working with 20 of our country's most innovative brewers, whose commitment to...continued

New EPA Survey Underscores Need to Release Clean Water Act Guidance

Posted March 27, 2013 by Karen Hobbs in Curbing Pollution, Health and the Environment

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EPA released the results of a comprehensive survey yesterday that shows that more than half – 55 percent – of our nation’s streams and rivers are in poor condition.   More than half. That’s a 10 percent increase from the 2002...continued

No Reason to Wait to Invest in Green Infrastructure

Posted March 21, 2013 by Karen Hobbs in Curbing Pollution, Environmental Justice, Health and the Environment, U.S. Law and Policy

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Despite the freezing temperatures in Chicago, my thoughts are turning to my garden, with dreams of bountiful harvests (and my much-anticipated pergola).  Gardeners intrinsically understand the economic concept of opportunity cost – if we don’t get tomato seeds or seedlings...continued

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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