Sarah Laskow

Sarah Laskow is a reporter based in New York City who covers environment, energy, and sustainability issues, among other things.

Oil

Bill McKibben discusses his 700,000 anti-Keystone emails on Colbert

The 350.org founder appeared on the Colbert Report to discuss the anti-Keystone campaign.

Critical List: Obama budget ups clean energy funding; Monsanto poisoned farmer

Happy Valentine’s Day! Enjoy that chocolate now: it could be harder to find as climate change takes its toll on the cacao tree. Here are some other “green(ish)” ideas for presents to the one you love, be it your sweetie, your kid, your BFF, or your favorite teacher. And here’s Grist’s V-day roundup. President Obama’s 2013 budget increased funding for renewable energy by 29 percent. In France, a judge found Monsanto guilty of poisoning a farmer who was exposed some of the company’s weedkiller. Hurricanes could tear up offshore wind turbines

Nuclear

Japan’s emissions shot up after Fukushima — but it could have been worse

After the Fukushima disaster, Japan launched a campaign to cut energy use. Businessmen wore relatively skimpy outfits to the office, turned off lights, abstained from air conditioning. But despite those energy efficiency efforts, carbon emissions still went up after the nuclear plant shut down. Aw hell — hot dark rooms full of scantily clad people aren’t the future of sustainability? According to a new report from the Breakthrough Institute (which is generally skeptical of energy efficiency and cool with nuclear power), Japan produced 4 percent more carbon dioxide this November than last, and the overall carbon intensity increased, as this …

Pollution

Industry mocks college students for fighting bottled water

College campuses across the country have been fighting to ban bottled water from campuses, and the International Bottled Water Association is fighting back with a pretty inane video.

Critical List: Trader Joe’s signs Fair Food agreement; newborn baby tapir

Trader Joe’s signed a Fair Food agreement with Coalition of Immokalee Workers that increased the price the company pays per pound of tomatoes. Energy Secretary Steven Chu defended the Energy Department’s loan guarantee program, after a independent review outlined possible improvements to the program’s oversight. The White House is pointing out that the review showed the total program portfolio has less risk than previously thought. The new Maldives government faces an investigation by the Commonwealth of Nations, an organization of countries once under British rule. Former President Mohamed Nasheed says the new government forced him from office at gunpoint. This …

Family

Birth control still one of Obama’s best environmental policies

The Obama administration is expected to propose a birth-control compromise today for Catholic-run institutions that don’t want to pay for their employees to avoid pregnancy. New federal rules guarantee free contraception coverage, but a narrow exception already exists for Catholic churches that don’t believe in not having babies. The compromise would still allow women to access contraception but would not make objecting employers pay for it directly. Update: Here’s a fact sheet with details about the compromise. The upshot: Religious employers aren’t required to pay for birth control, but if they don’t cover it, the woman’s insurance company has to …

Critical List: IG blesses State’s Keystone work; fair trade gasoline

The State Department’s inspector general has delivered his report on the Keystone XL environmental review process, and concludes that TransCanada did not improperly influence the assessment. The gist of the report is that the review wasn’t corrupt, just incompetent. Two nuclear new reactors have been approved, the first ones since 1978. The Pennsylvania government could actually levy fees on hydrofracking projects.

Animals

Whales get stressed out by noise from shipping

Where I live in New York, we’re constantly holding community meetings where neighbors complain that noise from local bars is stressing them out and keeping them awake. Whales don’t get to protest when their home jet streams get turned into noisy shipping alleys, but it’s otherwise basically the same. Just like late-night drunken clamor stresses out East Villagers, shipping noise stresses out whales. Researchers found a clear link between whales’ stress levels and shipping noise almost by accident: two whale experiments were going on during the stretch after September 11th when shipping ground to a halt for security reasons.

Critical List: Approval coming for two nuclear plants; warrant issued for Nasheed’s arrest

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will give its blessing to two new nuclear power plants in Georgia today. There’s a warrant out for the arrest of Mohamed Nasheed, the Maldivian president and environmental crusader forced to resign at gunpoint. The new president, who deposed him, says the warrant will be used only to ensure Nasheed’s safety. Nasheed was also injured in a protest yesterday. The Lorax (the movie) has commercial sponsors. They’re “green” commercial sponsors (like, um, DoubleTree? It does have “tree” in its name …) But still.

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