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Personal Independence

Personal Independence

By Greg Kozera–

I was rolling around the house last night in my wheelchair when my wife, Lynnda asked, “Could you frost that cake?” I was shocked, “Absolutely.” I responded. I can’t recall Lynnda ever asking me to frost a cake. This was a big deal. Since I came home from the hospital 3 weeks ago we have both struggled. I want to be as independent as possible but most of the time something is in my way or is out of reach. Something as simple as getting into the bathroom and to the toilet is a major operation that required assistance initially. Lynnda has been my care giver and it is quicker for her to help me rather than wait for me to do things myself. This was the first time since my injury that Lynnda asked me to do something productive. When I finished the cake looked decent. Lynnda was able to take care of another project and I felt useful. It was a great feeling.

We are both working our way through this time until I can get back on two legs and get rid of the chair. I have learned how to maneuver the chair and take care of myself. The key is having things within my reach. Lynnda has had do the things I absolutely cannot like getting the trash out, getting me all the things I can’t reach or find and having my meals prepared and where I can reach them. Our kitchen and home isn’t set up to where much is accessible to someone in a wheelchair. We have been able to make some changes but some things will take time. I can travel but currently I can’t drive. I need assistance just getting to a car. I have lost my independence. I can’t go where I want when I want. Even at home I am no longer independent. I need help. That’s okay. It isn’t what I’m used to. I appreciate what my wife and all others have done to help me.

Americans love freedom. We like to go where we want when we want. As a teenager, my first vehicle was a motorcycle. It was all I could afford. For me it was freedom to go places without having to ask for a ride or the family car. I could ask for a date knowing I had a vehicle. (as long as it wasn’t raining)

I remember the Arab Oil Embargo of the 1970s. It impacted our freedom. Gasoline prices went up. More important, availability went down. We could only buy gasoline on even or odd days based on the last digit on our license plate. During the energy crisis of the early 2000s we saw gasoline prices soar to over $4 per gallon. The cost to commute to work or travel for vacation increased significantly. This also impacted our freedom by limiting where we could afford to go on vacation and how far we could afford to live from work. It also impacted the vehicle we chose to drive. Large pickups and SUVs became very expensive to drive at $4 per gallon gasoline, limiting our freedom to drive what we want. During Hurricane Katrina in 2005 gasoline prices went up and we were restricted to 10 gallons. A friend of mine driving a large SUV said, “That won’t even move my gas gauge.”

Today as Americans, thanks to abundant cheap energy, we have the personal and economic freedom to travel, vacation and most people can choose the type of vehicle they want to drive without worrying about gasoline prices. During Hurricane Harvey, recently my local gasoline price actually went down the day after the hurricane hit. The local refineries weren’t using imported oil like they were in 2005.

We have other economic freedoms today thanks to cheap and abundant natural gas. The recently released Study by The Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP) and Shale Crescent USA showed U.S. end-users have saved $1.1 Trillion over the past ten years in natural gas savings. The savings came from lower natural gas prices, a result of a significant increase in US natural gas production. The majority of this production came from the Shale Crescent USA.

Freedom and independence are never free. Even today there are people and groups trying to destroy our independence because of their ignorance or agenda. The anti-fossil fuel, keep it in the ground movement promises to send us back to the days of the Arab Oil Embargo and the energy crisis only worse. They have no idea they would be eliminating the feedstock for most of our consumer products like cell phones, medical equipment, modern clothing and even solar panels. They may not realize that during the last 10 years when our natural gas production and use were increasing, according to the Consumer Energy Alliance air pollution was decreasing. According to the International Energy Agency our carbon dioxide level also decreased 14%. No other country even comes close to this reduction. Maybe the climate change folks should look to the USA and implement our solution.

Because of my injury I don’t have the personal independence to get to my upstairs bedroom right now. Over Thanksgiving we had the economic and energy independence to travel to the Outer Banks and spend quality time with family. Americans want to be free. Energy independence keeps us free. Thoughts to ponder.

© 2019 Shale Crescent USA

Greg Kozera, gkozera@shalecrescentusa.com 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.