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Imagining a brighter future for the Ohio Valley and America

For Father’s Day, my oldest son gave me a wind chime.

We hung it off the back porch.

My wife, Lynnda, likes wind chimes and was looking forward to hearing it. Eating lunch out on the porch she complained, “The chime isn’t working very well.”

I told her, “We don’t get a lot of wind to move the chimes.”

Her response, “Glad our electricity isn’t coming from wind turbines.”

Of course, she is right. We don’t get a lot of wind except during a storm. It is not a dependable energy source where I live.

At one time, we considered solar power as a backup energy source for our home if we lost electricity. We have no access to natural gas in our neighborhood. We knew solar wouldn’t work after dark. We thought we could run our refrigerator during the day and charge some batteries.

It turned out a gasoline-powered generator was a better choice.

At Shale Crescent USA, we work closely with a solar power company. I asked the manager what his biggest challenge is. His response, “Convincing my clients they will need a backup power source like natural gas because solar panels don’t generate electricity in the dark.”

I thought everyone knew that.

People want clean air and clean water. They also want to provide for their families.

They want a bright future and hope for a tomorrow better than today.

As Americans, sometimes we disagree on how to achieve that bright future.

Some folks don’t like the idea of continuing to use fossil energy and are imagining our region without fossil fuels, petrochemicals and plastics.

It is always important to dream and have a vision of the future. It is also important to understand basic engineering facts.

Fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas are more than just energy. They are the raw materials for the products we use every day — from household products to healthcare, transportation, defense, construction and personal items like clothing.

Without fossil fuels and petrochemicals, thousands of everyday products go away.

Imagine a hospital or doctor’s office of the 1940s and limited medications for things like blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and hundreds of other ailments. Imagine no computers or cellphones.

Wind and solar are intermittent energy sources.

They produce just one product: electricity.

The anti-fossil fuel people never mention this “little” issue. A windmill or solar panel can’t produce an N95 mask, a cellphone or the thousands of other products we use.

They require petrochemicals from oil and gas, and those wells all requiring “fracking.”

The manufacture of the products we use creates high-wage permanent jobs. One of the goals of Shale Crescent USA is to bring more of those high-wage permanent jobs here to our local region.

These are not your grandfather’s manufacturing jobs. These are high-wage, high-tech jobs requiring a two- or four-year degree.

The job creation has started. We know China is making essential products we use in the region.

We need to make them here and create jobs here.

All of the disposable masks I see in stores are made in China. That is unacceptable.

Our abundant, economical energy sources give us an advantage over foreign manufacturing. Modern manufacturing requires dependable energy and feedstock. We have both.

Every politician promises to create jobs.

The anti-fossil fuel crowd are like politicians. They promise thousands of clean energy jobs.

Who is going to create these jobs and what are they?

The best jobs in clean energy will be manufacturing of the windmills and solar panels.

We can choose to make them here if we use our fossil fuels and economic advantage.

Otherwise we can be assured these high-wage manufacturing jobs will go overseas like our healthcare PPE did before the shale revolution.

The anti-fossil fuel websites are full of fossil fuels products. There was one photo with a large group around a solar panel. The solar panel requires fossil fuels in its manufacture and to deliver it to its point of use.

The hard hats are plastic.

Shoes and some of the clothing are petrochemical based.

I’m sure many of the people in the photo had their cellphones with them — another fossil fuel product.

Leaders set the example.

Will the anti-fossil fuel people walk the talk and stop using plastic and other products of fossil fuels?

They can start by getting rid of their cellphones, computers and cars, especially electric vehicles that are at least 70% plastic.

We need PPE to protect our devoted health care workers. We need medical equipment.

These are products made of polyethylene and polypropylene, both from oil or natural gas liquids. Imagine our front-line health care heroes not being able to protect themselves.

Imagine medical care going back to the 1940s or earlier. Imagine not having the medications we have today for conditions like asthma, cancer treatment, heart disease or diabetes.

Without oil, natural gas and petrochemicals, we won’t have to worry about cancer.

Most of us will die from other diseases before we have a chance to get cancer.

This isn’t scare tactics.

This is hard reality.

The anti-petrochemical, anti-fossil fuel people need to demonstrate their plan.

Take a small town or a college campus and stop using ALL products from oil, natural gas and petrochemicals.

Show what that looks like and then we can choose the lifestyle. Show us what happens when the sun doesn’t shine, the wind doesn’t blow and there are no batteries, before turning our power off.

Batteries require petrochemicals and not so green cobalt.

We can work together to create a circular economy with our abundant energy and feedstock. We can have the products we need, clean air, clean water, good jobs and a bright, healthy future. Sending more manufacturing jobs overseas, as the Green New Deal would do, isn’t green.

Greg Kozera, gkozera@shalecrescentusa.com is the director of marketing and sales for Shale Crescent USA. He is a professional engineer with a master’s in environmental engineering who has over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry. He is the author of four books and numerous published articles.

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