Sarah Laskow

Recent Articles

Road to Nowhere

Congressional Republicans propose bizarre ways to bring the Highway Trust Fund back from debt.

The best place in the country to appreciate the marvels of our interstate highway system is heading west out of Denver on I-70 in Colorado. The road climbs and dips at a steep grade, taking cars across the Rockies, a range that includes some of North America’s tallest mountains. Fifty or so miles out of town, the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel, which takes travelers underneath the continental divide, marks the highest point in the entire interstate system, at 11,155 feet. Building the first of the memorial tunnel’s two bores, the one named after Eisenhower, cost more than $100 million, an extraordinary sum at the time. The worst place in the country to appreciate anything at all about the country’s highways system right now is Capitol Hill. The transportation bill the House is working on contains a $260 billion budget. The funds are not for building highways but to maintain them. For years, a gas tax fed the Highway Trust Fund. But that tax has not been adjusted for inflation, and...

Exxon Ain't Cryin' Yet

The victory against Keystone XL is an essential—but insufficient—step to building a powerful climate movement. 

This afternoon, the Obama administration rejected an application from transmission company TransCanada to build the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport carbon-rich oil from Canada’s tar sands, through America’s heartland, to refineries in Texas. That doesn’t mean the pipeline won’t be built. It just won’t be built on the timeline set by Republicans. Far from embracing the coalition opposing the pipeline, President Barack Obama has indicated that the permit is primarily a State Department affair and that he is most concerned about the potential threats to “the health and safety of the American people,” as he said in his November statement. His most forceful statements about Keystone came in response to Republicans’ legislative efforts to bully his administration into a decision. He has had little to say about the climate-change implications of the pipeline project. Republicans in Congress forced this decision with a deadline-setting rider to the payroll tax extension, and the...

Like a Rock

Even the car industry is on board with Obama's new fuel-efficiency standards, leaving Republicans the last to defend the American pickup.

David Zalubowski/AP/dapd
In the early 1970s, when Congress was pushing for fuel-efficiency standards as a response to the oil crisis, scaremongering on this issue fell to auto executives. A Chrysler vice president told Congress in 1974 that, trucks aside, fuel economy could outlaw full-sized sedans and station wagons and that within five years, Detroit would exclusively produce subcompact cars. Pickup trucks would be no more. For as long as legislators have tried to raise fuel-economy standards, conservatives and car companies have fought against them. But since 2007, when President George W. Bush signed an energy bill that called for an increase in the standards, saving money at the gas pump has been more popular than preserving gas guzzlers. President Barack Obama already has raised fuel-economy standards twice, in 2009, for model years 2011 to 2016, and now for vehicles made the decade after that. Automakers have fallen in with the Obama administration, and the White House deserves credit for corralling...