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Power Trip: A rollicking tour of America’s energy landscape

In This Series

  • The U.S. military’s battle to wean itself off oil

    Don’t ask what kind of mileage it gets.In the summer of 2006, Marine Corps Major General Richard Zilmer sent the Pentagon an unusual “Priority 1” request for emergency battlefield supplies. Stationed at a temporary base in Fallujah, Zilmer was commanding a force of 30,000 troops responsible for protecting Al Anbar, the vast territory in western […]

  • Our old electric grid is no match for our new green energy plans

    The bowels of New York City’s electricity system.Often referred to as “the world’s biggest machine,” the North American electricity grid as a whole is an integrated network of generators and millions of miles of wires that crisscross the United States and Canada. It snakes across fields, over mountains, through tunnels, along highways, beneath sidewalks, under […]

  • Can you taste the fuels in your food?

    Amanda Little on the farm. If you pinned a map of the United States to a dartboard, Kansas would be the bull’s-eye. Smack dab in the center of the country, the Sunflower State is one of America’s most productive agricultural hotbeds — the fifth-biggest producer of crops and livestock in the country. More than 90 […]

  • NASCAR and the high-octane American dream

    The action at the Talladega Superspeedway.At dawn on a hazy autumn morning, the rising sun spilled over the steel grandstands of the Talladega Superspeedway like foam from a cracked can of Bud. This image likely came to mind because I was lying beneath a tarp in a scrubby Alabama meadow carpeted with empty beer cans […]

  • Exploring the extreme frontiers of oil drilling

    The “Cajun Express” oil rig, tapping the black gold deep beneath the Gulf of Mexico.The oil field known as “Jack” is located 175 miles off the coast of Louisiana, below 7,200 feet of water and another 30,000 feet of seabed, occupying a geological layer formed in the Cenozoic Era more than 60 million years ago. […]

  • Confessions of a fossil-fuel addict

    The power grid: more feeble than you think.The trouble started on an August afternoon in a remote field in northern Ohio, miles from any town large enough to be marked on a standard road atlas. The only trace of humanity hung above the trees—an electrical cable known as the Harding-Chamberlin Line, carrying 345,000 volts of […]