Sarah Laskow

Sarah Laskow is a journalist based in New York.

Recent Articles

If a Law Chops Down a Forest, Does Anyone Care?

Republicans aren't just against cap-and-trade. They're going after long-standing environmental laws, too.

(Flickr/mpujals)
As a whole, the GOP doesn't like environmental regulation. In the past few years, though, Republicans in Washington have had little time to act on that animosity: They've spent their energy insisting that climate change does not exist, that if it does exist, it's not humanity's fault or that if it is humanity's fault, dealing with the consequences will cost too much. That was when Democrats had control of both houses of Congress and were pushing to pass legislation to address climate change. After having disarmed the cap-and-trade bill, which passed the House but failed in the Senate, and gained a majority in the House, Republicans are going even further. Not only are they going after the Environmental Protection Agency, its budget, and its regulatory power but they are also going after the most basic laws governing the health of the country's environment and of the people who live in it. Over the past few months, House Republicans have advanced legislation in both appropriating and...

Nonsensical Natural Gas Policies

In Washington, the conventional wisdom [for awhile now]( http://prospect.org/cs/articles?article=an_unnatural_alliance ) has been that natural gas should serve as a "bridge fuel" to renewable energy sources like wind, solar, geothermal, and hydropower. But people who live in states from which natural gas will be extracted are less psyched about the possibility of having a new extraction industry with a questionable environmental record move in. The reaction of their state governments to these concerns has been mixed. In the span of the last week, Pennsylvania lawmakers [voted against]( http://delcotimes.com/articles/2011/06/29/news/doc4e0af6f3ae912434952679... ) putting an "impact fee" on the natural gas industry; New Jersey lawmakers [voted to ban]( http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-06-30/new-jersey-lawmakers-send-chris... ) the drilling technique known as hydrofracking altogether; and New York's Gov. Cuomo, [according to the New York Times]( http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/01/...

The New Revolving Door

Stephen Colbert will be able to set up a super PAC that receives financial support from Viacom, The Colbert Show 's parent company. Campaign-finance groups fought against this decision because it opens the possibility of actual politicians employed by TV networks running campaigns with undisclosed funding from those media companies. In this brave new world of money and politics, Fox News wouldn't just be a media company shilling for the Republican Party; for some candidates, it could serve the same role as the party, serving up funding and a political platform. The rise of media and TV in particular as a next step for politicians poses ethical questions that the country has yet to grapple with. It's a new revolving door: A politician leaves politics but continues to use his knowledge and political influence to impact public policy, or at least the public's perception of policy. Is revolving from politics into television less nefarious and inappropriate than revolving into a lobbying...

Rethinking Points of Departure

New York City is [planning to erect street signs]( http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/28/nyregion/signs-to-help-pedestrians-new... ) that will help pedestrians get around the city. The Department of Transportation says the signs are meant to promote walking, but that strikes me as a rather limited goal. The sign project reminds me of [a session I went to]( http://www.thirteen.org/stateroom/festival-of-ideas-talking-new-york-at-... ) at the Festival of Ideas for the New City where participants got most excited about the ideas of creating hubs of information and options at points where people make decisions about their transportation. Imagine if, when you got out of a major subway station, there was a sign that gave you information about walking, a clear map of bus routes serving that neighborhood, and a bike share station. This isn't a crazy idea: now that D.C.'s Union Station has a bike share station on top of a metro stop, a bus stop for regular and Circulator routes, and a view of the...

Getting More Health Care for Less

Matt Yglesias asked yesterday if we're ready to accept cheaper health care if it's as almost as good as the health care we're paying for now. I'm ready to raise my hand and say that yes, I would, because, in my particular case, at least, I think that cheaper health care that sacrificed quality on one front could mean I'd be getting better health care overall. The example of a quality-sacrificing measure that Matt brought up was the MelaFind, a device that's supposed to identify melanomas but did not find every melanoma it was presented with. I had melanoma removed from my leg as a teenager, and since the thought of having another one is slightly terrifying, I make a point of following my doctor's orders and visiting the dermatologist every year for a skin check. Mostly, it's to reassure myself: I know that none of the moles on my body look anything like a potentially cancerous lesion. What I don't do each year is go to a primary care doctor -- I don't even have a primary care doctor...

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