Posted October 24, 2017
Long-time residents of Washington state joke that the western part, between the Cascades and the Pacific Ocean has two seasons – a rainy one that keeps forests of evergreens ever green, and a dry one that begins promptly on July 5, the day after soggy Independence Day festivities.
More seriously, Washington’s seasons, its climate, elevations and other factors combine to make great grapes – ultimately making the state the country’s second-largest premium wine producer in the country. Natural gas and oil help make it so – playing essential supporting roles in wine-making just as they do in so many other aspects of modern life, all across the 50 states.
Posted October 20, 2017
The current state of ozone regulation is a mess – and Washington needs to do something about it.
Late in 2015, EPA imposed new standards for ozone air quality, which posed an immediate problem out in the rest of the country because existing, 2008 standards weren’t yet fully implemented. Basically, the states were faced with having to deal with two competing sets of ozone regulations. As we wrote at the time, the 2015 standards weren’t necessary because the 2008 regime already was working and would continue to work toward better air quality.Today, this confusing, unnecessary situation remains – unnecessary because air quality continues to improve.
Posted October 19, 2017
Autumn is nature’s showiest time of year. In Virginia, as in other states, lush, green forests give way to the unmistakable colors of fall – with leaves in many parts of the commonwealth reaching peak right about now. There’s nothing quite like the season’s display of fiery colors against the deep-blue autumn sky. It’s a sight to see, free of charge – and there’s perhaps no better place to see it than in Virginia’s Shenandoah region. Here are just a few of the many ways you can get outside and take it in – all of which are made possible by the unsung wonders of natural gas and oil.
Posted October 17, 2017
It’s unclear what the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will do with U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s request that FERC alter the electricity marketplace in favor of certain generating facilities – a proposal that by design would favor some energy sources over others.
Perry says his request to FERC was meant to be a conversation starter. But if it’s a conversation about government tilting the electricity market one way or another, it’s the wrong one.
Indeed, as the secretary tried to explain his FERC order to lawmakers at a House hearing last week he missed the mark when he questioned the reliability of natural gas, the leading fuel for U.S. electricity generation in 2016, and asserted that the natural gas and oil industry receives federal subsidies – it doesn’t.
Posted October 17, 2017
“Life consists with wildness. The most alive is the wildest. Not yet subdued to man, its presence refreshes him.” – Henry David Thoreau, “Walking,” 1851
In the wilds of Maine this time of year, you’re running out of time to climb Mount Katahdin and reach the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. Winter is coming, and soon the weather will begin to close in on Baxter Peak, nearly a mile above sea level and the mountain’s tallest point – where the A.T. starts its 2,190-mile meander across 14 states, to its southern end in northern Georgia.
The Appalachian Trail is rustic, rugged and wild – maybe wilder than even a soul as solitary as Thoreau would fancy. One section of the trail just south of Mount Katahdin, called the Hundred-Mile Wilderness, might be the wildest of the wild for the challenges it presents even to experienced hikers. Since its birth in the 1920s, the A.T. has tested the mettle of tens of thousands of outdoorsmen and women of all abilities, including the uber-committed types who do the trail in its entirety – called thru-hiking. There are no electric lights on the trail, no vehicles, yet energy is with every hiker looking to their wild out.
Think: shoes, tents, backpacks and outerwear for the trek from Maine to Georgia, or whereabouts in between. The popularity of traveling the A.T. from end-to-end has skyrocketed, with 6,342 hikers completing thru-hikes since 2010 – more than a third of the total hikers to date. To make it through difficult terrain and changing weather conditions requires preparation – to stay warm and as dry as possible with durable gear produced from natural gas and petroleum by-products.
Posted October 12, 2017
What we see here are the outlines of a serious disconnect between current U.S. offshore policy and reality – that with the U.S. and the world projected to see significant growth in energy demand, the United States has more than 90 percent of its offshore reserves locked away, unavailable even for the studies and tests needed to determine the potential size and location of those reserves.Given the long lead times needed to develop the offshore, the United States’ current policy posture needs a course correction.
Posted October 12, 2017
Want to start an old-fashioned scrap? Ask which state has the best barbecue. Some will say North Carolina, others Tennessee and still others Texas. All of them belong in the culinary kerfuffle. Then there’s Missouri, which just might top them all. In the least, the “Show Me State” – according to a couple of surveys, here and here – might be home to the city with the country’s best BBQ: Kansas City.
Again, you can eat great BBQ in a lot of places, but probably none is better than what they serve up in KC-MO. Perhaps it’s a holdover to KC’s hey-day as a cow town, when its stockyards covered 55 acres – actually straddling the Kansas River into Kansas City, Kansas, as well. (Below, KC’s stockyards in 1909.) At its peak in 1923, Kansas City’s yards received more than 2.6 million cattle and more than 2.7 million hogs. Only Chicago’s were bigger.
The living legacy to those days is some mighty-fine BBQ eating. Energy helps make the feast happen – in all its tangy, greasy glory.
Posted October 11, 2017
Posted October 11, 2017
There’s a remarkable reality – among the many benefits of abundant, cleaner-burning domestic natural gas – that mustn’t be lost in the political back-and-forth over this week’s EPA decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan (CPP): The U.S. is achieving CPP’s objectives for reducing power sector carbon emissions – without CPP’s implementation.
It’s true: Reductions of U.S. CO2 emissions from electricity generation are well on their way to surpassing EPA’s estimate that CPP would lower CO2 emissions 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. And it’s being done without CPP, thanks largely to market forces driving the increased use of natural gas in power generation.
Posted October 10, 2017
It’s early fall in the Mid-Atlantic, and memories of summer weekend jaunts to the Jersey Shore are still fresh – because, as Springsteen put it, “down on the shore everything’s all right.”
Here’s what’s alright: Folks loading up the car, filling the tank with gas and hitting the Atlantic City Expressway in droves, because there’s no more popular shore point than historic Atlantic City. The Boss again:
“Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty, and meet me tonight in Atlantic City.”
Atlantic City is the shore, it’s the Boardwalk – the one with a capital “B.” It’s shops, amusements and games of chance. It’s historic. Atlantic City street names were appropriated by “Monopoly,” still one of the most popular board games ever.
Atlantic City certainly lives up to its “Do AC” slogan. Pull through Ventnor or Brigantine, onto Atlantic Ave, into “America’s Favorite Playground,” and you’re instantly greeted by emporiums and casinos. A couple of blocks in the distance, the Boardwalk attracts beachgoers, bicyclists and beach tag checkers. This town doesn’t mess around when it comes to the tourist experience. Natural gas and petroleum help ensure that A.C. brings the heat year-round.