Our young people are better than we think

Since we returned from San Antonio and the World Petrochemical Conference my focus has been following up with the people and organizations we contacted WPC. A lot of follow up is needed because of the number of contacts we made. Our lunch event had every seat filled and people were standing to hear about Shale Crescent USA’s new IHSMarkit study presented at WPC. People are beginning to understand our energy and feedstock advantage and want to know more. We are on a path to become a 2nd US Petrochemical Hub.

I did take some time out to talk to a couple of groups of high school students in Stark County, Ohio last week. They were concerned about jobs when they graduate. These students learned that if Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania were a country we would be the #3 natural gas producer in the world. They now know that the USA is the leading oil and natural gas producer in the world. They also know 85% of the growth in US natural gas supply has come from the Shale Crescent USA Region, right under their feet. We talked about what this means to them like low energy costs, high wage jobs and a clean environment.

These young people never experienced the Arab Oil Embargo of the 1970s. It occurred to me that they also never experienced the energy crisis that ended in 2010 with the Shale Revolution. Gasoline has always been abundant and cheap. They have never seen $3 gasoline.

I just gave them the facts based on science, engineering and my experience without getting into politics. One young man put the pieces together and asked me great question, “With the USA now being the leading oil and gas producer in the world, (and Russia #2) why would Russia ever want Trump to be President? Did they investigate the wrong candidate?” This high school junior figured out what many in Congress and most of the major media still doesn’t understand. The increase in supply from the American oil and gas industry has lowered energy prices globally hurting Russia and Saudi Arabia the most. The other presidential candidate had proposed restrictions that would have reduced US production and driven up world oil and natural gas prices helping Russia the most.

I did several programs for the University of Colorado student radio station. They call me, “The Reality guy.” Once I explained where their favorite products come from they put the pieces together quickly. The college student host said to his listeners, “We don’t like wells and petrochemical plants but we like our cell phones, cars, skis and climbing equipment. Doesn’t it make sense to make these products here under our environmental laws and create American jobs.”

When I spoke at the University of Vermont school of Law their comment was, “We never looked at things that way before.” We have all heard the bad things about “Young people today.” I have heard the same things about other generations of young people including mine. The high school and college students of today don’t read newspapers or watch TV news. They are searching for truth. We need to give it to them in all areas of life. We need to always be people of integrity so they have a reason to believe us. The current college admissions bribery scandal has not helped, just like coaches, clergy and celebrities that have betrayed trust.

As an adjunct professor at a community college I was thoroughly impressed with my students. They all worked full time jobs in addition to going to school. They have their weaknesses but were willing to learn. Most didn’t like public speaking. They all got better at it. Last year I was on an industry tour of some of Dominion’s facilities. One of my former students, now a full time Dominion employee had to explain Gas Control and his role to the large group of seasoned professionals I was in. I was proud of how he handled himself. He was a true professional and was very comfortable in front of the group. He learned and applied what he was taught.

Today’s young generation is dealing with challenges we never had to worry about. We had a stable home growing up. Even though we didn’t have much money I never had to worry about going hungry. My parents made certain of that.

In my own family, our oldest son is on his 3rd marriage. His kids have had to deal with instability. They have grown up fast. Their other grandparents and my wife and I have had to be their stability and role models like in many families today. Many children today are living with people other than their parents. My grandchildren are determined not to repeat their parents’ mistakes. I hope they succeed. The point is, this new generation is tough and determined.

Based on what I have experienced, today’s high school, tech school and college students are smart, hard working, thinking people. When presented with the truth from people they can trust they will figure things out for themselves. They ask tough well thought out questions. They are looking for guidance. They deserve truth from people with integrity. We need to set a good example. They are watching. We need to engage with them. We need to encourage them and believe in them.

Our young people are our future. They are the workforce that will ultimately rebuild our Region. Our future is bright if we can give these young people the leadership, encouragement and guidance they deserve. A thought to ponder.


Greg Kozera, gkozera@shalecrescentusa.com is the Director of Marketing and Sales for Shale Crescent USA. He is a professional engineer who has over 40 years of experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert with a Masters in Environmental Engineering and the author of four books and numerous published articles.