Sarah Laskow

Sarah Laskow is a journalist based in New York.

Recent Articles

Oil-Industry Attacks on Green Jobs: Not Just a Paranoid Fantasy

Dave Weigel doesn't think much of green jobs. In this snarky-ish post about a green-jobs panel he attended at the Aspen Festival of Ideas, he writes that "the problem for green jobs was that they didn't seem to exist" and scoffs a bit at one speaker's assertion that green jobs are under attack: Questions were of the "how-do-we-convince-everyone-else?" variety -- the green jobs case was just obvious. What the environmental movement needed was good stories of good jobs, to push back against the endless accusations that they were peddling a sham. They knew they weren't. What was the problem? "Green jobs are absolutely under attack," said Ellis-Lamkins. It's fair to point out that training for jobs in renewable- or clean-energy sectors has far outstripped the number of jobs created in those sectors. They're small; they're growing. But contra to Weigel's skepticism, green-job advocates are right to say that they're being attacked by oil and gas interests. An example: A few days back, the...

High-Speed Rail vs. Higher-Speed Rail

In the new issue of The Washington Monthly , Phillip Longman makes a strong case that America doesn't need high-speed rail so much as higher-speed rail that arrives on time and at more frequent intervals. Here's the crux of his argument: Increasing speeds on the slowest segments of the line would do as much or more to shorten travel times as making the fastest speeds faster, and wouldn’t require an expensive new right-of-way or new equipment. Longman uses Amtrak's Northeast Corridor service as an example and points out that even though it's not particular fast, on average, it's as fast, if not faster, than driving or flying between cities like Philadelphia and New York. For longer distance trips, i.e. traveling between Boston and New York, it's not comparable, but that doesn't matter. The entire route still fills up with people traveling between places like Baltimore and Trenton or New York and Providence. Longman's point is that we could build similar systems on Midwestern routes...

Energy Development Projects Threaten Historic Sites

Earlier this month, the National Trust for Historic Preservation released its [annual list of most endangered historic places]( http://www.preservationnation.org/about-us/press-center/press-releases/2... ). Most of these places are suffering from lack of funds and attention, and one "place" is actually a group of places -- "sites imperiled by state actions," i.e. cuts for preservation funding. But four out of eleven of these places are threatened by energy development. Wind and solar developments are encroaching on [Bear Butte]( http://www.preservationnation.org/travel-and-sites/sites/mountains-plain... ), a sacred area in South Dakota for Lakota and other tribes. Oil and gas extraction sites are ruining the landscape around [New Mexico's Chacoan sites]( http://www.preservationnation.org/travel-and-sites/sites/southwest-regio... ). Longwall mining could cause a historic house in Pennsylvania to collapse. And erosion is eating away at Dauphin Island, Alabama, where Ft. Gaines, an...

Today's Mistakes Tommorrow

Suburbs once seemed like a good idea to politicians and the people that moved there, but the downsides to suburban sprawl became clear in a few generations: long commutes and the pollution that goes with them, loss of farmland and forests, increasingly large houses with increasingly large carbon footprints. But will the refocus on transit-oriented, densely-populated cities post unforseen problems for the next generation? In Orion Magazine , James Howard Kunstler suggests that the mistake we're making is huddling in bigger, taller cities that won't be resilient when energy pressures make running them too expensive. Kuntsler's article lumps a bunch of different potential pitfalls of current trends in urban design together, but I'm sympathetic to the idea that we're doubling down on cities like New York and L.A. that are Too Big To Fail while paying less attention to people-sized cities like Pittsburgh or Ithaca, NY. Even big cities that recognize the challenges ahead don't necessary...

Standing Up to Republicans on Environmental Protection

I feel a little bad for Mike Pool, the deputy director of the Bureau of Land Management. He's [a career BLM employee]( http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/info/newsroom/2009/february/SO0903_Pool_acti... ) who worked his way up through the agency. And this month he's doing his duty by dealing with the House Natural Resources Committee and its push to open up as much federal land as possible to drilling and other energy development. Earlier in the month, he [fielded questions]( http://naturalresources.house.gov/Calendar/EventSingle.aspx?EventID=245405 ) about speeding drilling in Alaska, and this morning [he's testifying about Interior's position]( http://naturalresources.house.gov/Calendar/EventSingle.aspx?EventID=246984 ) on a suite of bills that would speed development of renewable projects on federal land. [As I said before]( http://prospect.org/csnc/blogs/tapped_archive?month=06&year=2011&base_na... ), I'm not convinced that renewable projects need to go on public land. But Natural...

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