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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Easy Rider

Air Date: Week of

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Australian Shaun Murphy, also known as the Eco-Trekker, is travelling across the United States. As he tells host Steve Curwood, he’s using non-polluting vehicles powered entirely by renewable fuels.


CURWOOD: You won’t hear the words “fill ‘er up” uttered at a gas station anytime soon by Shaun Murphy. The Australian Murphy, who calls himself “The Eco-Trekker,” is traversing the U.S. using vehicles powered only by alternative and renewable resources. He joins me now from the road in Wisconsin. Shaun Murphy, just where are you?

MURPHY: I’ve just ran out of charge on one of my electric vehicles in a little town called Brandon in Wisconsin. It’s a pretty cute town.

CURWOOD: Now, you’re changing vehicles and using sustainable energy as you travel around the U.S. What are you going to do if you run out of a charge now?

MURPHY: Well, what I’m doing is – this leg I’m traveling from Green Bay all the way down to Chicago using only electricity fired by cow manure. So, I’ve got a charge-up about five miles down the road. I’ve got the crew here with another vehicle which is actually a Harley look-alike but it’s got a totally electric motor.

CURWOOD: Now, why are you doing this?

MURPHY: I’ve had this passion to travel all around the world using only renewable energy and hook up with all these magnificent people who have got these different eco-energies and innovations. So I thought, let’s try to do it in the land of the car. Let’s try to do it in America. So we’ve been on the road for about two months now, trying to hook up with any renewable energy we can get, with any vehicle we can get. And so far, so good.

Shaun Murphy in a solar canoe on the Klamath Lakes,near the borders of Oregon and California.

CURWOOD: So, what do you figure is the most unusual fuel that you’re using on this journey? I would nominate the cow poop.

MURPHY: Cow poop’s pretty unusual, yeah. But once we hit Florida we’re actually using electricity that’s produced from sugarcane, from the bagasse fiber. After they extract the juice from the sugarcane they then heat and burn the sugar cane itself, the actual bagasse. So, we’re going to fire up from sugar mills up through Florida. That’s pretty cool. And veggie oil across Texas in a diesel motor. That should be a bit of fun. So we’ve got a good little mix.

CURWOOD: What do you think of American drivers?

MURPHY: You know what? They’re more respectful then Australian drivers, that’s for sure. Australian drivers try to run you off the road. The American’s have actually been really kind. I’m sure that may change when I hit New York, I’m not quite sure…

Shaun Murphy and his dog Sparky ona Vego scooter in Adin, California.

CURWOOD: [LAUGHS] So, where are you off to next?

MURPHY: Now, we’re trying to make it just on cow power to Chicago. Once we hit Chicago, hopefully, successfully, just on the cow stuff, we go to Iowa. And I have to travel across Iowa using only fuels derived from grain, so that might be ethanol, switchgrass electricity, anything that’s prairie fuel.

CURWOOD: Shaun Murphy, the Eco-Trekker, is heading east on his journey to travel the U.S. using sustainable vehicles. Thanks for joining us.

MURPHY: Thanks Steve, nice chatting with you, mate.

[MUSIC: Guerrero “Black Sheep Blues” LOOSE GROOVES AND BASTARD BLUES (The Orchard – 1999)]



Eco-Trekker Homepage


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