Working together like Baptists and bootleggers for planet Earth

In my corporate life, I transferred to Elkview becoming manager of a large district. On my first trip ever to Paintsville, Kentucky, I had dinner with my facility manager, Bub Butcher (Loretta Lynn’s cousin). It was a nice restaurant. I ordered a beer.

Bub quickly interrupted. “Greg, you can’t get a beer in Paintsville. Johnson County is dry (alcohol sales are illegal).” It was an enjoyable dinner. Bub told me about the Baptists and Bootleggers. A bootlegger is someone who sells illegal goods. In this case alcohol.

“Greg, we have been dry for some time. Most folks would like alcohol to be legal again. There are regular votes to legalize alcohol and it always gets voted down. That’s the only time Baptists and bootleggers agree on anything. They work together to defeat legalization. The Baptists want alcohol sales illegal for religious reasons. The bootleggers want alcohol illegal so they can stay in business and make a healthy profit selling alcohol above retail to people who don’t want to leave the county to buy it.”

The lesson was, people with drastically different self-interests who may not even like each other will work together toward a common goal.

The most important characteristic of any high-performance team whether in athletics, business or other areas is a common goal everyone agrees to and is passionate about achieving.

April 22 is Earth Day. Its roots are from the 1960s over growing concern about pollution. Growing up in Pittsburgh, pollution was horrific. The creek we swam in was orange from mine acid drainage, contained sewage and other chemicals. Nothing lived in it. Our family couldn’t afford a pass to the community pool.

The air smelled nasty from releases by the asphalt and chemical plants nearby. Mom’s laundry on the clothes line sometimes had black soot from the coal power plant up the river on it. We didn’t have a sewage treatment plant. Sewage went into creeks and the Allegheny River.

Something had to be done. People got together. There were protests. Laws were passed. Things changed. Young people like me got into industry, advanced and made changes from the inside.

Today we have the cleanest air and water I have ever experienced, not just in the Shale Crescent USA region but around the USA and in places we visited like Germany, Iceland and Japan. The creek we swam in now teams with fish. There are still have problems to solve. Plastics waste is a problem especially in Asia where most isn’t collected and disposed of. It’s dumped into rivers and ends up in the Indian Ocean. The USA is making progress. Shale Crescent USA was instrumental in helping to bring CRDC to York, PA. They are taking 2 Tons of mixed unwashed plastic waste per hour out of the environment and turning it into a construction product. Other companies are finding ways to eliminate plastic waste. SCUSA is working to help several of these companies expand to our region.

Bringing industry and manufacturing to the Shale Crescent region is another way to reduce global emissions of all types. Products manufactured here and sold in the region reduce fuel needs and transportation emissions by 15-20,000 miles compared to products imported from Asia. EIA data shows U.S. electricity has 26% lower emissions than Chinese electricity. Buying USA made products is one way everyone can lower global emissions.

The Nature Conservancy says, “We need a healthy planet to thrive, and our planet needs us! Celebrate Earth Day by taking action for nature and people today and every day.” This year’s theme for Earth Day is “Planet vs. Plastics”. Creative ways are needed to collect and eliminate plastic waste especially since demand for plastic products is expected to double or triple by 2040. This is fueled by an increasing global population, electrification and light weighting of vehicles. EVs are plastic vehicles. Gasoline vehicles have increasing plastic content to reduce fuel use. Windmills and solar panels require plastics. The airplanes we took to Europe and electric powered trains we traveled on in Germany have seats and interiors made from plastic.

In Germany all plastic and glass bottles have a .25 Euro deposit on them paid when purchased. The deposit can be obtained from the vendor or from vending machines everywhere. Empty bottles put into

the machine return a quarter each. The quarters are very useful since public restrooms cost .50 to 1 Euro. We saw very little plastic waste. Apparently, we looked like tourists. People happily helped us dispose of our empty bottles until we realized they had value.

There are people and environmental organizations who choose not to solve the big problem which is plastic waste in Asia. They aren’t satisfied with collecting, reusing and recycling plastics in places like the USA and Europe. Their goal is to ban ALL plastics. If these groups are serious they need to set an example. Be the first to stop using all plastics. Show us how it’s done by turning in their computers and cell phones for recycling. Give up TVs, cars of any type, athletic shoes and most clothing. The pandemic was quickly forgotten. Plastic is required for health care PPE and medical equipment of all types. My wife’s knee replacement requires a specialty plastic. Millions of people die if plastics are eliminated from modern healthcare making those who propose total plastic bans morally and ethically responsible. Environmental solutions that destroy people’s lives aren’t solutions.

Industry, government and environmental groups don’t agree on most issues. The may not like each other. Like the Baptists and Bootleggers, can they find a common goal? We have only one world for all of us. People need to eat, still want stuff and need healthcare. Industry needs to stay profitable to remain in business and make the products we need. Political solutions neglecting sound engineering are dangerous and deadly. Can they find a common goal all are passionate about and work together? Happy Earth Day!

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


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