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Better Living

Through Plastics

By MIKE ZAGATA • Special to

Governor Cuomo is about to extend the temporary ban on fracking in New York and make it permanent via his budget Bill. Some will cheer that action, but those who understand its unintended consequences won’t be among them.

Mike Zagata, DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administration and a former environmental executive for Fortune 500 companies, lives in West Davenport.

Indeed, they will live in fear of another pandemic where we don’t, as a result of his ban, have access to the materials needed to combat any medical illness – not just virus attacks.

Remember, fossil fuels like oil and natural gas aren’t just used for fuel.

How can a rational individual make those statements? Well, here’s how. Hydro-fracking for oil and natural gas, in addition to traditional production techniques, provides the raw material for all plastics and most pharmaceutical drugs/medicines.

Plastics are essential in the manufacture of those things needed to combat disease and save lives. They are used in thousands of products that increase the quality and safety of everyday life.
The list includes, but is not limited to: those much sought-after ventilators, face masks, goggles, IV bags and tubes, nearly all medical PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), heart stents, surgical gloves, syringes, insulin pens, catheters, inflatable splints, incubators for premature babies, dialysis tubing, artificial hips and knees, plastic pill casings (medicine), plastic implants for hearing, plastic cups and pitchers, eye patches, inhalation masks, disposable gowns, urine continence and ostomy products, tamper-proof caps, Petri dishes for microbiology cultures and thousands more.

Please read the list carefully and determine what your life might be like if you were no longer able to get one or more of the items you need to maintain the quality of your life.

One or more versions of the hydrocarbon methane (natural gas) are used as feedstock during the manufacture of most of the drugs we rely on to save, or maintain the quality of, our lives. Picture your world without them.

On a more morbid note, think about body bags. Consider that, if all natural gas
drilling was banned, we would be wrapping our meat at the grocery store and those who perish from the coronavirus in newspaper instead of plastic. What would that look like today in New York City?

Beyond medical uses, plastics have numerous other applications including, but not limited to: Motorcycle, skiing and cycling helmets, window safety glass, seat belts, nylon/polyester air bags and seat belts for safety in cars, cushioned foam dashboards, shock absorbing car bumpers, firefighter PPE (including jacket, pants, and boots), space suits, fishing waders. bullet-proof glass, clothing, eyeglasses, etc. Are those things you want to be without?

Think about what’s going on right now in our hospitals.

Can the healthcare providers and patients afford to rely on the wind and sun to provide the energy necessary to run the ventillators? What happens when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining – about 40 percent of the time between the two?

We all want a quality and healthy lifestyle along with a quality environment. We’re beginning to understand that without an abundant supply of oil and natural gas at this moment in time, both are at risk.

We’ve done a great job in this area of basing our economy on tourism and discouraging manufacturing. This summer will tell us if that was a wise decision.


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