Let’s Help Our Mothers and Grandmothers to Stay in Their Homes

Living 250 miles away I couldn’t visit my mother every weekend but we talked by phone every Sunday night. My mother read 2 books a month and her mind was sharp. Our discussions were fun. In addition to family stuff, we covered a wide range of topics from current events, religion, politics, sports and technology to name just a few. When we got into these topics talking to her was more like talking to a colleague. She had lived through the depression, World War II, the loss of her husband (my Dad) and a son (my brother). She was tough and had a very strong set of values. She knew what she wanted, especially when it came to her life. At 91 she developed a brain tumor and opted against chemo or other evasive procedures deciding instead to keep her quality of life for the time she had left. She made it very clear that she wasn’t going to a hospital or a Hospice House. Mom told us that she wanted to die at in the house she had raised us six boys in and had lived in for over 50 years.

A couple of years after the “Shale Revolution” had started, during one of our Sunday evening phone calls my mother said, “Greg, my gas bill budget is down $100 a month.” Natural gas prices had fallen due to increased supply thanks to horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. To an 89 year old woman on a fixed income a $100 per month saving is huge. My mother didn’t want any freebies. If I bought even a gallon of milk when I visited, I would have to sneak it into the refrigerator so she didn’t find it until after I left, otherwise she would pay me for it.

We have the anti-fossil fuel crowd that wants to get rid of fossil fuels and run everything on renewables. Hillary and Bernie want to shut down coal mines and lay off miners. They also want to eliminate fracking laying off more people. Since we frac almost every well this will drive gasoline prices over $5 per gallon. Without US oil OPEC and Russia will once again be in control of world oil prices and our gasoline price raising the price of everything we buy.
I talked to a lady that was in leadership of one of the large anti-fossil fuel groups. She was very specific. If they can reduce oil, gas and coal production it will drive the prices of these fuels up. I protested, “This will triple or quadruple people’s utility bills!” “That’s the idea.” she said, “People will be forced to use less and then wind and solar will take over.” I said, “That’s cruel. What about seniors on fixed incomes and families?” She just shrugged her shoulders. I guess people aren’t very important to the anti- fossil fuel crowd. My mother could not have stayed in her home if her utilities had tripled. Most seniors don’t want to move in with their children. This “anti” woman didn’t seem to care what happened to them. Do Hillary and Bernie understand that? Most important, do they really understand energy?

As a professional engineer renewables simply can’t replace fossil fuels and maintain our current standard of living. Do the anti-fossil fuel people understand that fossil fuels and nuclear power make wind and solar possible? Without fossil fuels we can plan on cold dark houses when we get home in the winter because the sun won’t be shining and in most places the wind isn’t blowing. Maybe we can cut down trees like they do in Haiti for cooking and heat. The antis may not know that trees take in CO2 and produce oxygen. If we destroy thousands of acres of trees putting up windmills and solar panels have we really helped the planet? Because of their unpredictability wind and solar are NOT base load fuels, they are supplemental fuels.

My mother was independent to the end. She passed away quietly on her porch surrounded by her plants in the early morning sunshine reading the newspaper. Thanks to horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing she was able to stay in her home as she wished. The United States has abundant energy (oil, gas, coal and even nuclear) that will last hundreds of years based on today’s technology. This energy has helped us to clean up our air and water while lowering CO2 emissions. Abundant domestic oil and natural gas has lowered our gasoline prices giving many people their first real raise in years. Lower energy costs have fueled economic growth and created jobs. With a little energy education, common sense, a concern for people and unselfish leadership I believe that we can do in other parts of the world what we have done here.

Isn’t it time for Washington to start thinking about what their rules mean for real people and let other mothers and grandmothers stay in their homes?
Thoughts to ponder.
© 2016 Greg Kozera

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