As states begin to reopen and bundles of sun-pale, previously isolated Americans pour out of their homes seeking to lap up an abundance of Covid-killing UV rays at parks, pool parties and protests across the country, it’s time to give a nod to the oil and gas industry for delivering to us the many spittle-protecting plexi-glass partitions, painted warning/closure signs in our parks, PPE of every kind, and medical equipment that are providing us the necessary protection through the ‘duck and cover’, ‘phase 2’ period of the re-opening of the U.S. economy. Regardless of one’s opinion about the various re-opening strategies (and there are many opinions), there is no question that without the diligent and on-going work of the men and women of the industry from extraction to transportation to refining of our nation’s oil and gas resources, our lives have been made better during this grueling lock-down period.
As I returned to the west coast from one of the most prolific shale plays in the US (in my gasoline-fueled car with rubber tires), I was struck by the juxtaposition of the deep disdain many in this part of the country have for the oil and gas industry, on one hand, while simultaneously surrounding and covering themselves with every kind of petroleum-based product, to avoid the statistically unlikely event of contracting or transmitting ‘the corona’, on the other hand.
On both coasts, the impact of the products derived from the oil and gas industry on our lives has never been so visibly ubiquitous to the public, nor so plainly positive. Without these products, America and the world would be hesitant to get back to normal economic and social activity. While many love to hate the industry, it’s impossible to ignore its positive impact throughout our lives. Whether it’s the computer screens through which many now participate in Zoom meetings to our virtual happy hours with friends on Facebook, or our Netflix binge-watching, life is made better because of oil and gas. Whether it’s the face shields and gloves our ER docs and nursing staff are wearing in emergency rooms, or the PPE our dentists are wearing while finally cleaning our teeth, life is made better because of oil and gas. As countless diners pick up their delicious carry-out meals packed in all sorts of oil and gas industry-derived packaging, cutlery, straws and libation-filled cups, it is clear life is made better because of oil and gas.
So while we anxiously await the return of our collective pre-Covid lives…and they will return …let us take a moment to acknowledge in big and small ways that our lives are decisively better because of the men and women of the oil and gas industry. A simple thank you would be brilliant, and I’ll bet even appreciated.