Students get scoop on cutting dependence on foreign oil |

Students get scoop on cutting dependence on foreign oil

About 300 students from the northern suburbs learned how America can reduce its reliance on foreign oil and strengthen its economy during a panel discussion sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh.

The students learned that the United States spends $600 billion a year on foreign oil. America has less than 5 percent of the world’s population but uses 20 percent of the world’s oil.

“If we do not solve this problem, the world we’re heading into will be a much more difficult world than the world we’re headed into today,” said Anne Korin, co-director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security in Potomac, Md.

She was one of three speakers at the Nov. 4 seminar at Seneca Valley Intermediate High School in Harmony. The others were Jack Crook, compliance chief of oil and gas for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and Jean-Dominique Le Garrec, principal engineer of Westinghouse Electric Co. and an honorary consult of France in Pittsburgh.

Korin said the solution is not simply drilling for more oil here but rather tweaking the software in the nation’s cars so that they would run on ethanol and methanol as well as gas. That would give drivers a choice of what fuel to use but would add just $100 to the cost of each car.

Crook said there is 500 trillion cubic feet of gas in the Marcellus shale, the gas pocket that runs a mile beneath Appalachia. Of that, probably 10 percent can be recovered.

“This is a large boon to the state of Pennsylvania,” he said.

His department has been concerned about the impact of drilling on the quality of the state’s water.

“No water well has been impacted by the actual process of hydraulic fracturing,” Crook said after the discussion. “The complaints we have of water well contamination are generally due to spills on the surface.”

Le Garrec, a native of France, said his country generated most of its electricity from foreign oil until 1973. Lacking oil, natural gas and now coal, France turned to nuclear energy after the Arab oil embargo of 1973-74.

Since 1978, the number of generators in France has grown from four to 58, which produce 80 percent of the country’s electricity. Westinghouse worked on many of those plants.

Afterward, students said they found the discussion useful.

“I didn’t know about any of this stuff before now, but now I really get it,” said Kaleigh Ruiz, 14, a Seneca Valley freshman from Cranberry.

“We need to become more reliant on resources other than oil, and that will be easier to do in the future,” said Rochelle Rogalski, 16, a Seneca Valley sophomore from Cranberry.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.