Be careful what you wish for
This week, I had a phone conversation with a friend of mine, Harry, from northern New Jersey who works in New York City. Things are rough up there right now with the Corona virus. Harry said they have even gotten rougher. Starting March 1st New York state has banned single use plastic bags. The State won’t take enforcement action until May 15th. However, some cities including New York City have previously banned single use plastic bags. Many cities and counties in the area also charge 5 cents per paper bag used. The State is encouraging people to BYOB (Bring your own bag), typically some kind of reusable bag. Harry told me they have now discovered the reusable bags they want people to use can carry the Corona virus. Reusable bags have now been prohibited in stores. I wonder how long it took to figure that out? I talked to my daughter in Maryland today. She told me the grocery chain she uses has also banned reusable bags in their stores.
I am concerned for the people of New York, especially for my good friends who live there. New York is also one of the states that banned fracking. Almost every oil and gas well requires fracking to produce oil and natural gas. Oil and natural gas are used for much more than transportation or fuels to cook with or produce electricity. Oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids are the feedstocks for petrochemicals. Petrochemicals are used to make plastics. Petrochemicals and plastics are products of fracking.
Petrochemicals are needed to produce most of our household and consumer products. Cell phones, electric cars, solar panels, pharmaceuticals, athletic shoes, medical equipment and thousands of other products are products of petrochemicals. Petrochemicals are also our first line of defense against the Corona virus. Personal protective equipment like masks, face shields, latex gloves, gowns doctors and nurses wear, hazmat suits and even the plastic drums contaminated clothing is put in for disposal are all products of petrochemicals.
New York is desperate for ventilators, masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment (PPE). At one hospital nurses were wearing black trash bags (also from petrochemicals) because they couldn’t get protective clothing. All these products are made possible by petrochemicals from fracking, a process New York chose to ban. Companies in our Region make plastic parts for ventilators.
In New York the anti-frack, anti-plastic, anti-fossil fuel people got the bans they wished for, never thinking what the results could be. Reusable shopping bags created a problem. Fortunately, other states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia and countries like Russia and the OPEC nations are still drilling gas and oil wells and fracking them providing essential feedstock for ventilators, masks, gloves, gowns and other PPE. Without feedstock from fracking and the plastics it makes possible, the medical equipment and PPE the New York Governor and Mayor of New York City so desperately need would never come. Had the antis gotten what they really wanted, a national fracking ban and ban on plastics we would be defenseless against this virus and fully dependent on other countries. How many more lives would be lost? Fortunately, common sense has prevailed so far in our region.
It is important for everyone to know where things come from. There are presidential candidates who still want to ban fracking, a 70-year-old process. It is interesting that no one cared about fracking until we ended our energy crisis and became a competitor instead of a customer for OPEC and Russia. I don’t work for the oil and gas industry but I understand fracking and how safe it is. We also live between three wells that we watched get fracked. Our air and water are fine. We raised three healthy kids. The deer eat grass at the well sites if they aren’t eating our flowers. Our three golden retrievers played at the wells, ate and rolled in the grass. They lived to be 16, 14 and 13 years old. This is very old for a golden retriever.
The USA doesn’t have a plastics problem. It has a problem with people disposing of trash properly. We can recycle plastic. 90% of the plastic in the ocean comes from 10 rivers in Asia. Asian rivers take the place of our trash collections. Shale Crescent USA is working to bring several companies to our Region to use their technologies and turn plastic waste into products and feed stock. We are working to bring a foreign company to our Region who plans to manufacture biodegradable plastic bags and other products. They want to come here because of our economical, abundant energy and feedstock. In many countries, plastic bags are essential. People bring their bulk foods and meat home in plastic bags from the market. Reusable bags are unsanitary and paper doesn’t work well. Making bags biodegradable would solve a huge problem. New technology makes more sense than bans.
Most of our pharmaceuticals, healthcare PPE like masks, gloves and gowns come from China. We need to start bringing the manufacture of these critical items back to the USA and to the Shale Crescent USA. We can certainly use the good jobs high-tech manufacturing will provide. Those that understand the importance of petrochemicals, plastic and manufacturing these critical healthcare products in the USA need to tell our political leaders and the public. In my opinion, politicians need to stop listening to the “antis” and begin protecting our people.
What have you wished for? Time with spouse and family? Time to clean the garage or office? Time to read? Maybe time to sleep in? If you are socially separating and are working less you may have the time you wished for. Use it wisely.
Greg Kozera, firstname.lastname@example.org is the Director of Marketing and Sales for Shale Crescent USA. He is a professional engineer with a Masters in Environmental Engineering who has over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert and the author of four books and numerous published articles.