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Sarah Laskow's Posts

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California’s high-speed rail gets $1 billion

California is going to have high-speed rail. Despite grumblings about the cost, Gov. Jerry Brown supports it, and now the project, which will link San Francisco and Los Angeles, is getting close to $1 billion from the Department of Transportation. The department came up with this chunk of change and more after other governors (Florida's Rick Scott, Ohio's John Kasich, and Wisconsin's Scott Walker) rejected the DOT's funds. Because in Republican World, nothing spurs the economy like not investing in large infrastructure projects.

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Critical List: Durban climate talks begin today; UK secretly supporting tar sands

This year's international climate negotiations begin today in Durban, South Africa. This round of talks is basically the opposite of Copenhagen: hopes for anything at all happening are very, very low. The British government has been supporting Canada's tar sands projects in secret. One new study found that the climate is less sensitive to carbon dioxide than some scientists had feared. That doesn't mean climate change won't happen, just that we have might have more time to deal with it. The U.S. investigated whether Chinese solar panel subsidies were violating international trade laws. Now China is investigating our renewable energy …

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After-school EV club is so much cooler than yearbook

In Kansas City, Mo., high school students enrolled in the after-school program Minddrive are building an electric car. They meet three times every two weeks. They started with a decade-old Reynard Champ Car, and have turned it into an electric vehicle that will drive from Jacksonville, Fla., to San Diego, Calif., over their spring break. Every 100 miles, they will stop to recharge the car and meet with other students to talk about electric vehicles. The extra awesome part of this program is that it's targeted to students that haven't been thriving in traditional classrooms. In Minddrive, they learn actual …

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Great Lakes fish triumph over invaders

The story of invasive species usually goes something like a particularly dark zombie movie -- the invasive species kills everything else and thrives, changing the planet forever. But in the Great Lakes, a different story is playing out, one in which the natives win. In addition to evil zebra mussels, transatlantic shipping has brought a species known commonly as "the bloody red shrimp" to the Great Lakes. But according to a new study from Queens University, native fish are probably chowing down on these creepy, alien shrimp. Take that, invasive species! The fish were hungry, anyway, what with the way …

Read more: Animals, Food

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Your TV is an even bigger piggy than you are

There are two grand traditions to observe on Thanksgiving: eating a whole bunch and watching a whole bunch of football on TV. And in terms of energy use, it turns out your TV is much more of glutton than you are. The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance has been working to sell consumers on energy-efficient TVs (they call them "Energy Forward") and they have created this delectable infographic to show exactly how much grub you could have prepared with the energy you wasted on your television.

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Google drops renewable energy program

Google announced yesterday that it's trashing its Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal program, or or RE<C, as part of its "spring cleaning." (Ugh, Californians. It is nothing like spring right now.) This move puts RE<C in the same category as Google Wave, which was useless from the first moment it existed and was also offed in this (mushy, rainy, cold, November) round of housecleaning. Google wants us to know that it's not giving up on green altogether, although the "green energy czar" who worked on RE<C also left the company this month. The RE<C page now urges visitors to check …

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Critical List: Turkeys to be pardoned; Bill O’Reilly can totally get solar if he wants it

President Obama will pardon two 19-week, 45-pound turkeys from Minnesota today. Their names are Liberty and Peace. It is possible to have Thanksgiving without turkey or turkey-shaped soy loaf. Here are a few ideas for what to serve instead. We're sacrificing holiday time to commercialism for no reason. Longer Black Friday sales don't increase stores’ take; they just spread purchases out over longer periods of time. Bill O'Reilly said he couldn't find someone to help him go solar. Now solar companies are falling over themselves to give him a hand. Drilling for shale gas will ruin the U.K.'s chance of …

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This Texas town could run out of water by Dec. 6

There are 11 towns in Texas that are on a state list of places in danger of running out of water. One of them, Groesbeck, has only until Dec. 6 to find an new supply, the Houston Chronicle reports. The Texas drought has been going on for more than a year now, but what's terrifying about this story is that it seemed like Groesbeck had more than enough water at the beginning of the summer. Then it experienced 90 days where temperatures topped 100 degrees. The town's public works director calculated that 731 million gallons of water evaporated over that …

Read more: Cities, Infrastructure

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Rep. Don Young throws a weird tantrum over arctic drilling

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6CpvU-DzxE Usually, we at Grist List try to make the news amusing for your entertainment. But sometimes Congress does the work for us. The scene: A committee hearing on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The characters: Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), drilling advocate, professional crank Douglas Brinkley, respected historian Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), committee chairman, author of every bit of anti-environmental policy to come out of Congress since 2008 Grist List presents, "Members of Congress Are Jerks, in One Act"* YOUNG: I will tell you if you ever want to see an exercise in futility, it's this hearing. That …

Read more: Politics

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Critical List: U.S. winning solar trade fight; the rise of agroforestry

The U.S. is winning the trade spat with China over solar manufacturing. Agroforestry -- growing crops under a tree canopy instead of on clear-cut land -- is growing in popularity. Hydrofracking gone wrong looks "like 1,000 Alka-Seltzers going off" as gas bubbles through puddles, according to a whistleblower. China's Durban strategy includes a drive for clean-energy funds for developing countries. Navajo Nation is working to switch from coal to renewables.