In the aftermath of November third the world did not come to an end. However the election reinforced and again annunciated what was identified and reported in previous articles. Pennsylvania is a divided state in a divided country. The rural counties of western Pennsylvania including Venango, Clarion and Butler, Progress News country all overwhelming voted for Donald Trump. The same was true all across the United States rural counties were the core support for President Trump. Over 2,000 counties cast their winning votes for Trump. However in nearly 500 counties with concentrated population and as it turns out the wealth centers of the country voted for his opponent. Prior to the election traveling in multiple states Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina the landscape was the same, Trump and in some areas Jesus signs, dominated the rural byways. However drive through the suburbs and then into the cities and the signs progressively changed. The majority of voters in these parts of America voted differently and by numbers currently exceed the Presidents totals.
In these travels one could sense being neighbors but not in another’s business, that self-reliance, somewhat quiet stoicism, and maybe an undercurrent of wanting “things the way they used to be” pervaded the landscape. At the same time store fronts were empty and usually at the edge of town sat the ubiquitous Dollar General. It is clear Trump’s libertarian message resonated giving voice to pent-up frustration that city folk complaints gained more traction than rural America call for less government, living within your means and taking care of your own.
So what does all this have to do with energy which has been the focus of various articles over the last year? No matter who finally emerges as the declared winner most likely the global call for reduction of reliance on fossil fuels will increase. Wind and solar projects will continued to be advanced in our state as well as all regions of the country whether the state is “blue or red”. Electric vehicles will become more numerous attempting to reclaim market dominance that was lost to the internal combustion engine 120 years ago. Prototype hydrogen powered vehicles will be developed and may over the next decade prove to be viable. One can argue that the United States is being left behind. Consider the relationship with the automobile, institutionalized by cheap gasoline and perceived wide open spaces. American for years have marginalized fuel efficiency standards to support oversized and less fuel saving vehicles that clearly do not fit in with current and future global sustainable needs.
Yes we can be dismissive and claim it is our right and perhaps privilege to drive what we want and accept in general excessive and wasteful energy consumption. However this attitude does not seem maintainable without aggressive and arrogant push back to change. This may be the core issue, fear of future disruption of the mythical norm. For the present regardless of the federal administration in western Pennsylvania compressed natural gas can be truly embraced as the bridge fuel and clean energy source for at least the next thirty years. The Shell Cracker facility and the multiple gas fired power plants will demand the regions gas. These beneficial uses running in the background of all the renewable discourse will continue to provide essential plastics products, power every generation cell phones, and low and behold heat homes in Philadelphia and New York City. The tug of war between the needs of rural and demands of urban America will continue to be center stage. The newly politically engaged must commit to continued vigilance, discernment, so as to support and elect the next generation of authentic leaders. Let the old guard fade, acknowledge that they have awaken awareness but new voices are required. Join a unifying chorus to bring constructive change. Let the shared legacy of leaving the planet better during our time here, as well as passing a hopeful torch to our children and grandchildren resound throughout the land.