Sarah Laskow

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

Climate & Energy

Critical List: Vermont can’t shutter nuke plant; microbes turn seaweed into biofuel

The EPA will test water in Dimock, PA, and is delivering drinking water to four homes there. Silly Vermont. You wanted to shut down a nuclear plant? Only the federal government can regulate nuclear power! For biofuels, seaweed could be the new corn.

Climate & Energy

Buckle up for more weather weirdness, America

Last year, the climate phenomenon La Niña messed with everyone’s heads. La Niña conditions mean that the ocean temperature in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean are colder than usual, and this was responsible for (among other things) the uncannily warm winter that the Northeast has been having. Sorry, can’t blame that on climate change! Yet. NASA’s climate-tracking satellites have picked up indications that this round of La Niña is peaking.

Cities

Microsoft’s ‘avoid ghetto’ app is kind of gross

Microsoft has come up with an app for people traveling by foot that will route them around areas with high crime rates. This function is being called the “avoid ghetto” feature (not by Microsoft, of course, because they’re not that dense), and it’s, uh, controversial. As a person who sometimes walks around in cities at night by herself, I don’t think this is a totally terrible idea: as Anna North writes at Jezebel, “women might find sex crime information useful when planning routes,” although “since most rape victims already know their attackers, walking alone likely isn’t when you’re at the …

Politics

TransCanada must hate Republicans right now

You know who is probably most peeved at Republicans for trying to score political points over the Keystone XL schedule? TransCanada. Because while Republicans’ huffing over the administration’s decision to 86 the pipeline permit will affect Obama about .00001 percent, TransCanada’s stock took a dive and now has the potential to become what analysts call “dead money” — just a really bad stock to invest in, basically. TransCanada has already announced it’s going to reapply for a new pipeline route. But it’s hard to know whether the company means it when the CEO says “he expects [the Keystone XL pipeline’s …

Food

The European Union bans battery cages for hens

In the European Union, hens can no longer be kept in tiny battery cages that pack them so tightly they could not walk or flap their wings. The EU voted to ban the cages in 1999 but gave the poultry industry 12 years to implement the switch-over. As of 2012, the use of battery cages is illegal. The new cages give hens more space and must have nest boxes, which animal welfare experts say are key to keeping chickens from stressing out. (They need a little bit of privacy to feel comfortable laying an egg, which is understandable! Would you …

Climate & Energy

Critical List: Republicans still want Keystone XL; Obama ad focuses on energy

The State Department denied TransCanada’s permit application for the Keystone XL pipeline. President Obama agreed, saying that he was rejecting the permit because Republicans wouldn’t stop trying to force the pipeline forward. Republicans are responding to this by looking into legislation that would force the pipeline forward. They’re also asking Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to come testify on yesterday’s decision next week. House Republicans ALSO want to promote ethanol derived from … natural gas and coal. And they want to classify it as renewable fuel. What? It’s ethanol!

Oil

Clean energy policies create more jobs than Keystone

Obama is poised to reject Keystone XL this afternoon, so brace for a lot of Republican bellyaching about how he obviously doesn’t care about jobs. There is a problem with this line of argument, and it’s that it is nonsense. Don’t believe us? Check out this graph, from ThinkProgress, which shows how Obama administration policies like the much-maligned loan guarantee program and the EPA toxic pollution rule will create many, many more jobs than Keystone construction:

Green Cars

Almost all U.S. car use is within an electric car’s range

Because it takes longer to fill up an electric vehicle than to fill a gas tank, and because EV infrastructure is still limited, the most common criticism of EVs goes something like “OMG RANGE ANXIETY.” And, sure, no one wants to get stuck in their big metal bucket on the side of a highway until a tow truck can haul your ride to the nearest charger. But two Columbia Ph.D. students have parsed real actual data (from the National Household Travel Survey) to show that, in the daily lives of most people, range anxiety just shouldn’t be a thing.

Climate & Energy

Critical List: Military could produce 7 GW of solar; British survey hedgehogs

Solar projects at desert military bases could produce 7,000 megawatts of solar energy — a huge amount. EVs have more than enough range to make 95 percent of the trips we take by car. Scotland aims to source 100 percent of its power from renewables by 2020, but to reach that goal, it needs the price of offshore wind power to drop. A hedgehog survey is the most British endeavor ever, right?

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