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states2017  power-past-impossible 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted June 23, 2017

It’s a day and a half into an old-fashioned driving vacation on historic Route 66. Oklahoma is just over the next hill, about a third of the way along the highway’s 2,400 miles. The road ahead is clear, the Ford Mustang is humming – and with Tom Petty wailing “Free Fallin’” over the car’s sound system – it’s a little like a scene from “Jerry Maguire.” Freedom on the open road.

Well, mostly freedom. Within view of the Oklahoma state line, the car’s fuel indicator winks on. The Mustang’s getting thirsty. No problem. Billboards rising over gently rolling, brown landscape point to gas stations just inside the Sooner State – at Quapaw and also Commerce, Mickey Mantle’s boyhood home.

You pick Commerce, a nod to “The Mick’s” memory. While the Mustang quenches its thirst, you scan a state map, looking for attractions along 66’s storied route.

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states2017  power-past-impossible 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted June 21, 2017

On a clear June morning in Kansas, a farmer inspects his hard red winter wheat crop and notes that it has turned from green to a shade of gold. He takes a bite out of a kernel to test for hardness, and then he knows his crop is ready to harvest and turn into flour at the nearby mill. He climbs into his combine and works quickly to cut the stock and separate and crush the grain before the next rain comes.

Often weighing more than 40,000 pounds, the combine is the most important piece of equipment at a wheat farmer’s disposal. The large, gasoline/diesel-powered machine, manufactured by companies including John Deere and International Harvester, efficiently cuts the wheat and threshes it, separating the kernels of grain and discarding the leftover straw. Like so many aspects of modern life, harvesting the wheat that goes into our daily bread and many other food products is an energy process.

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states2017  power-past-impossible 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted June 19, 2017

Mounted on the conference room wall of U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s Washington, D.C., office is the one that didn’t get away – “Walter,” a 63-pound King salmon that the senator fished out of the Kenai River in her home state a few years ago. In a video tour of her office, Murkowski says just about everyone who comes to visit her in D.C. wants their photo snapped with “Walter” in the background.

King salmon is king in Alaska.

This time of year, sport fishermen, tourists, Native Americans and others are checking charts and tables that track salmon “runs,” when King (also known as Chinook) salmon  – as well as Sockeye, Coho, Pink and Dog salmon – make their way from the oceans to freshwater spawning areas inland.

Murkowski’s “Walter” is a whopper. Yet, the King salmon people fish for rarely weigh less than 30 pounds, so your rod and especially the line you’re using better be up to the task. That’s where energy comes in – one of countless ways oil and natural gas are helpful parts of our work and play every day.

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states2017  power-past-impossible 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted June 16, 2017

The basket slowly rises, and you flash back to that runaway balloon that nearly spoiled your fifth birthday – except that the balloon above your head right now is about seven stories high, a big bag of hot air bringing flight to the wicker-basket gondola that’s your vehicle to a world between heaven and earth.

The balloon floats higher and higher over New Mexico’s Moreno Valley, about a hundred miles northeast of Santa Fe. Wheeler Peak, at more than 13,000 feet the highest natural point in the state, towers to the north. High-mountain meadows and rolling prairies fan out to the east.

New Mexico’s Balloons Over Angel Fire event makes for a perfect Father’s Day weekend. Pilots travel from across the state and from as far away as Colorado and Oklahoma to the village of Angel Fire for the 5,000-person, three-day event. Filling the sky with 40 colorful balloons takes a lot of energy – from the fabrics used in their construction to the fuel that heats the air. The result is one of the country’s most spectacular outdoor events, brought by natural gas and oil.

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states2017  power-past-impossible 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted June 14, 2017

A spray of water swats you in the face as your raft rushes down into boiling river rapids. You grab a nylon perimeter line to secure yourself, but the raft surges up, and you go tumbling out and into the cold Colorado. Bobbing up, you smile – your life preserver keeping you afloat until the guide can haul you back into the raft to continue your summer whitewater trip through Utah’s scenic landscapes.

Whitewater rafting is a wild, give-and-take with nature. A number of states have great rapids for visitors to travel, but none better than Utah. The flow of the water moves you through the picturesque, river-carved canyons of places like Arches and Canyonlands national parks. It’s a journey that petroleum-based products like nylon, plastic and polyurethane foams make as enjoyable and as safe as possible.

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states2017  power-past-impossible 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted June 12, 2017

Before folks in the Bluegrass State and parts beyond can begin sipping Kentucky bourbon – after work, after dinner, on Derby Day at Churchill Downs in the spring, or gathered around a winter’s fire – there’s a detailed, time-honored process in producing the amber-hued drink that has been the United States’ national spirit since 1964.

You might not know it, but bourbon-making is an energy-intensive process – from heating the mash, to distilling the alcohol, to creating the charred oak barrels in which the bourbon ages. Energy is all over bourbon manufacturing. Indeed, Kentucky bourbon is brought to Kentucky and the rest of the bourbon-imbibing world with an essential assist provided by natural gas.

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states2017  power-past-impossible 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted June 9, 2017

Before heading off to the wilds of West Virginia to offload your youngster for a few weeks at summer camp, you glance once more at The Checklist. No odyssey to summer camp launches without The Checklist:

  • Warm blanket – check.
  • Plastic shower caddy (one that drains) – check.
  • Rain jacket/poncho – check.
  • Sunscreen, lip balm, bug spray – check, check and check.

And that’s just a fraction of the stuff that’s headed to camp. They’ll need Sherpa porters to haul all of your child’s gear from the car to their assigned cabin – much of it fashioned from or with the help of natural gas and oil.

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states2017  power-past-impossible 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted June 7, 2017

On a warm summer afternoon in Louisiana, a chef pours Cajun seasoning into a boiling pot to season the crawfish inside. The sharp aroma of cayenne pepper, garlic and other spices wafts from the steaming pot. Natural gas flames heating the kettle is a tradition in this part of the country: Families and friends, sitting elbow to elbow, cracking shells, sucking the juices from crawfish heads and relishing each tender, meaty bite from the tail.

By the start of summer in Louisiana, crawfish season already is well underway, thanks in large part to the family-owned operations of all sizes that dot the state that produces 90 percent of the country’s domestic crawfish crop, according to the Louisiana Crawfish Promotion and Research Board. (BTW, if you pronounce it “craaay-fish,” you’ll give away your status as an outsider!) As the crawfish capital of the world, Louisiana’s farmers and chefs alike work day-in and day-out during the season to bring this product to the masses, including David McGraw, owner of Louisiana Crawfish Co.:

“It started as a hobby and evolved through the product because we enjoyed the aqua culture so much. We’ve been able to grow to what we are today, but it started as a love for the land.”

Farmers like McGraw rely on their love for the waterman’s life and the knowledge passed down to them from previous generations to make a living that provides a product enjoyed by chefs, their patrons and individual Louisiana households. They also rely on various forms of energy that support their operations from pond to plate.

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states2017  power-past-impossible 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted June 5, 2017

When country music superstar Brad Paisley steps out onto “The Circle” at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, it’s pure Tennessee – Paisley adding to the state’s storied country music legacy as he strums the strings of a Gibson J-45, an instrument produced by the Nashville-based Gibson Guitar Corporation. Also playing an accompanying role: energy.

Consider the Opry as an attraction, with energy helping illuminate, amplify and make folks comfortable. Consider also the finely crafted, exquisite guitars with which Paisley and other country artists make their music. There are a number of guitar makers, but since Paisley uses a Gibson, let’s illustrate with that.

Gibson manufactures legendary American products. And for many of the Grand Ole Opry’s stars, Gibson is an instrument of choice – from modern-day artists like Paisley and Darius Rucker, to the legendary “Father of Bluegrass,” Bill Monroe, who favored a Gibson F-5 mandolin. Now, when you think of Gibson guitars you might not think of natural gas and oil, but their versatility is instrumental for the company to continue producing its iconic line.

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states2017  power-past-impossible 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted June 2, 2017

Lee Dickey knows peaches. His family-owned Dickey Farms is the oldest continuously operating peach packinghouse in Georgia, a state synonymous with the fleshy fruit. Dickey knows soil and farming techniques. He knows heavy equipment and fertilizers. And he knows that energy is his essential partner in modern, efficient peach growing.

The peach has been part of Georgia’s identity since long before Scarlett O’Hara  moved to the quiet end of Peachtree Street in Atlanta. And while Georgia isn’t alone in its association with an iconic homegrown produce – think Massachusetts cranberries, Idaho potatoes and Florida citrus – no other state has more fully intertwined its agricultural standard-bearer with its profile, from license plates and its representative on the state-themed quarter coins to upwards of 70 variations of the name Peachtree for streets in the Atlanta area alone

Peaches do grow on trees – but the process takes a lot of energy. Dickey is the fifth generation of his family to farm Georgia peaches. He said his family’s 1,000 acres of rich, southern earth produce about 4.5 million pounds of peaches a year, and that’s largely due to energy, which is the activating force in so many aspects of modern living, from agriculture to frontier space technologies.

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