Author Archives: Claire Brisse

Claire Brisse Podcast


Claire Brisse

Podcast Script


Oil Use in US




Natalie Eggert

Emory University Student


In February of this year, President Barack Obama vetoed the Keystone XL Pipeline. If it had been completed, it would have finished a project connecting oil sources in Canada to the US Gulf Coast.

Oil is an energy source that triggers poor health and environmental consequences. However, it is also a pillar of the U.S. economy.

Claire Brisse (BREES) reports further on this oil driven struggle.



Tape Log Index of Actualities (3:29)

Aubrey Tingler

Emory University Student (0:52)

Tracy Yandle

Emory University Environmental Science Professor (1:26)

Barry Ryan

Rollins School of Public Health Professor (2:03)

William Size

Emory University Environmental Science Professor (2:40)

William Size

Emory University Environmental Science Professor (3:07)

Aubrey Tingler

Emory University Student (3:21)




No thank you, pipeline, no thank you, pipeline.




These are the sounds of over 100 peaceful activists protesting the Keystone XL Pipeline last spring. This ongoing political argument has touched many Americans across the country. Aubrey Tingler is an environmental activist and a senior at Emory University. She agrees with the protestors and the final decision to veto.



Aubrey Tingler

Emory University Student


The Keystone XL Pipeline running through you know, essentially the middle of the country would do a lot more harm than good, it would pollute our water, it would give dangerous jobs to people who maybe don’t have other opportunities and feel desperate and so I really don’t think we benefit economically or environmentally in the long run.




Since the pipeline will no longer be completed, the alternate method of transportation for oil is by train. Emory environmental science professor Tracy Yandle has a starkly different opinion and argues that the pipeline was actually more environmentally friendly than the alternatives.




Tracy Yandle

Emory University Environmental Science Professor


The way it makes it to the market right now is it gets loaded onto railway cars that have horrendous safety track records, that can come off the tracks, can rupture, can go into rivers, kill fish. It’s not working.



Despite various contradicting opinions on the pipeline veto, there is a general understanding of the hazards related to oil, such as pollution, oil spills and climate change. Barry Ryan is a professor at Rollins School of Public Health and has a chemistry background. He explains that oil has a direct contribution to dangerously high levels of greenhouse gases.



Barry Ryan

Rollins School of Public Health Professor


Burning fossil fuels essentially releases carbon dioxide, carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that raises the temperature of the earth substantially. We’re at a point now where we’re close to the saturation effect of carbon dioxide.





According to the Energy Information Administration, which is an independent data resource, the United States is the largest oil consumer in the world by at least 54%. These rates of usage are huge despite the known consequences of oil use. William Size, a geologist from Emory University explains the positives of oil us, possibly explaining the high rates.



William Size

Emory University Environmental Science Professor


So it’s easily transported from one place to another, it has a high content of energy per unit mass. It burns easily, the efficiency of it of it is that there’s fairly little waste for burning oil.



The infrastructure for oil is already in place, in addition combined with natural gas, oil directly or indirectly supplies the US economy with over 9 million jobs. Size uses an analogy to further explain oil’s influence.



William Size

Emory University Environmental Science Professor


It’s liquid money basically, and a lot of people base their economy on oil.



Oil has a strong influence on the country. Is it even possible to switch to renewable energy? Tingler explains her hope for the future.



Aubrey Tingler

Emory University Student


I think it is possible because I’m one of those optimists who thinks that if you can make your voice heard something will start to happen.




Claire Brisse, Emory News Now





Podcast Rough Draft

Claire Brisse – Oil in the US


Hello my name is Claire Brisse and I’m currently a student at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Fossil fuels including coal, natural gas and oil are some of the dirtiest forms of nonrenewable energy. They produce various greenhouse gases and carbon emissions that are leading to climate change and ultimately rising temperatures. The United States is the largest consumer of oil in the entire world with a whopping 18.9 million barrels of oil a day, that’s roughly 290 billion gallons of oil a year.

Dr. William Size from Emory University goes on to explain how oil is formed:

0:00 Total 12 second Voicer: Dr. Size: 9:05 – 9:17 (in tape)

This oil it trapped underground until a drilling process removes it. It then must be refined and is eventually used for things such as gasoline. In the US transportation accounts for 70% of its oil use and 27% of greenhouse emissions. Dr. Ryan Barry from Rollins School of Public Health explains the health impacts of these emissions:

0:30 Total 12 second Voicer: Dr. Ryan: 16:13 – 16:25 (in tape)

He goes on to explain how asthma is caused by the nitrous oxides and other dangerous vapors being released that could impact human health. Oil spills are another huge danger with regular oil use. Gary Harper from the Environmental Protection Agency explains some of these risks:

0:51 Total 35 second Voicer: Gary Harper: 14:45 – 15:20 (in tape)

He explains that in the southeast regions the EPA respond to roughly fifty oil spills every year of various sizes. In addition, sometimes these spills lead to human evacuations. Despite the environmental and health risks associated with oil, the industry is still a prominent piece of American economy as Dr. Size explains:

1:11 Total 25 second Voicer : 20:00 – 20:25 (in tape)

Ultimately, the oil and natural gas industry provides America with 9.8 million jobs. Oil is a huge driver of US economy. Dr. Ryan elaborates further on some of the positives of this energy source.

1:26 Total 15 second Voicer: 7:37 – 7:52 (in tape)

Aubrey Tingler is a senior at Emory University in the Environmental Science Department. She has a different opinion about the oil industry:

1: 46 Total 11 second Voicer Aubrey Tingler: 1:47 – 1:58

Earlier this year President Barack Obama vetoed the Keystone XL Pipeline, highlighting the controversy over oil us in the US. This pipeline would have completed the last 60% of a project that had started over a year ago, running an oil pipeline from Alberta Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. It would shuttle 830,000 barrels of oil a day. Dr. Yandle, a professor in the Environmental Science Department at Emory University argues that this was a poor decision, because the alternative method of transportation is by rail. She explains that trains that have poor safety records, and actually produce more carbon emissions just getting the oil to the refiners and it’s less efficient:

2:10 Total 14 second Voicer Dr. Yandle: 1:41 – 1:55

Dr. Ryan disagrees, and believes that the veto was a good decision. The pipeline would run through the Ogallala Aquifer in the Midwest, which would use large amounts of water and also cause possible sources of pollution. Opinions are still polarized on this issue. Ultimately, in order to prevent climate change the use of oil is limited. Tingler has the final thoughts on this:

2:30 Total 30 second Voicer Aubrey Tingler: 2:14 – 2:45

Finish exactly at 3:00

Claire Brisse

Feature Story: Oil Use in the US

Students buzz around the cafeteria as Aubrey Tingler and I discuss her future vehicle choices during lunch, electric versus gasoline. She is a senior at Emory University who is passionate about the Keystone Pipeline and oil use in the United States.

“I’m one of those optimists that thinks if you can make if your voice heard, things will start to happen.” She believes that students can have an influence on the government and preventing oil’s business as usual mentality.

In her opinion, she described the future as mixed energy, and prefers to transition away from oil stating that, “I don’t think digging deeper and causing more environmental degradation is the solution.”

Aubrey is discussing one of today’s hot topics in society – oil use in the United States.On February 24 of this year, President Barack Obama vetoed the construction of the final 60% of the Keystone Pipeline.1

If passed, this pipeline would have connected Canadian tar sands to the Gulf of Mexico. Stretching 2000 miles in total, the pipeline would have transported 830,000 barrels of oil a day.2

This controversial issue has highlighted oil use in the United States, reminding individuals of how they get their energy. Currently, America is the number one user of oil in the world, with roughly 18.9 million barrels of oil that are consumed daily.

Oil is one of the three regularly used fossil fuels, oil, natural gas and coal. America has progressively moved away from coal, due to its environmental consequences, however, the states are still extremely reliant on the oil industry.

The primary uses of oil in the US is transportation, roughly 70% of total use.Due to America’s infrastructure and size there is a strong dependency on private vehicles and long travel times. Gasoline, the primary fuel for these vehicles is made from oil.

The concern over oil use is the negative impact on the environment. Oil spills, climate change and the impacts on human health are arguments against oils’ use and production.

This strong reliance on oil, in addition to other fossil fuels, has caused America to lead the way in CO2 emissions. Carbon dioxide is the primary byproduct of oil use. Out of the 32,155 metric tons of CO2 emitted annually, the US is responsible for 5,270 of those.6

Carbon dioxide is an example of a greenhouse gas. These gases include water vapor, methane, and nitrous oxide.4 They act as a blanket, trapping the sun’s heat close to the Earth’s surface. This allows humans to live comfortably with the temperatures on earth.

Currently, average temperatures have climbed roughly 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit.3 By the year 2100 this number is predicted to raise another 2-11.5 degrees Fahrenheit.3 This increase in temperature is due to a parallel increase in these greenhouse gases.

Dr. Barry Ryan from Rollins School of Public Health discusses that, “We’re at a point of saturation in carbon dioxide,” and the consequences of this are more energy in the atmosphere. This results in more dangerous and powerful storms.

This increase in global temperature also affects sea level, melting ice, and increases in oceanic acidity and extreme events. Dr. Ryan specifies that many countries have low altitude and would be greatly impacted by this sea level rise.

Another environmental danger is oil spills. Gary Harper from the Environmental Protection Agency describes the protocol for oil spill clean ups. Roughly once a week or 50 times a year the EPA responds to an oil spill in the southeast.

The oil spills range dramatically in size. However, they can impact the local water and wildlife. Any coated vegetation either dies or is removed by the state or EPA. Birds and other wildlife are particularly influenced and there is always the potential need for human evacuation due to health hazards.

Despite the negative environmental issues, oil remains one of the key drivers of the United States and other global economies. “Oil is liquid money,” and “it helps keep our country strong,” Dr. William Size a geologist from Emory University clarifies.

Oil has a high content of energy compared to other energy sources like coal and wood. There’s very little waste from burning, it’s easily transported, has a strong infrastructure base and is a political and economic giant. It boosts other industries that use oil for their production.

Oil brought the US into the industrial age. It provided a method for economic development. However, besides the environmental flaws, oil is also only 30% efficient. The other 70% is lost energy.

However, this economic power isn’t distributed equally and causes political and economic disparities between countries. It has caused wars and conflicts in the past.

Dr. Ryan from Rollins also mentions that oils use is a balancing act. Removing oil from the economy may boost human health by removing the pollution from the atmosphere, stop rising greenhouse gas levels and preventing oil spills.

However, what would the consequentially health effects be? He mentioned the loss of jobs and the loss of health insurance, which could trigger a decrease in overall human health. “It’s a balancing act,” between human health, environmental health, oil and economics.

In order to eventually move away from fossil fuels it’s important to invest in alternative energy. However, so far according to Dr. Size, there have not been enough substantial financial investments in this field.

Dr. Size goes on to explain that, “It’s human nature not to get serious until things really get bad. It may take a calamity,” to shift away from the massive oil industry.

The Keystone Pipeline controversy had similarly strong arguments for and against. The project would have created 42,000 temporary jobs and roughly 50 permanent jobs, boosting the economy.

However, the pipeline would have increased CO2 emissions by 24.3 million metric tons per year.9 Plus the oil from Alberta, Canada is extremely dirty. The area holds several tar sands, which once refined and burned release three or four times more CO2 emissions than conventional oil.7,8

Others argue the oil will continue to be pulled from the tar sands and delivered to the gulf even without the completed pipeline. The alternative will simply be by trains, which have much larger carbon footprints.

The pipeline would also cut through one of the largest natural aquifers in the US, the Ogallala Aquifer. This aquifer provides water for farms and people in eight states in the Midwest.

If the pipeline were to run through that area, it may trigger contamination and reduction of this essential water source.

Dr. Tracy Yandle an environmental science professor at Emory says, “It [the veto] was an empty gesture. It’s not going to accomplish anything,” because ultimately the oil will continue to be refined and travel through alternative measures.

Ultimately, oil use in the United States has its limit. Environmentally, there will be a point when it’s no longer economically viable to continue using fossil fuels.

It is important to begin now by researching and creating alternative energy sources and building the infrastructure so that eventually the other options are available. This is essential to keep the US economy strong, even without its oil industry backbone.

Word Count: 1179


Dr. Tracy Yandle

tyandle [at] emory [dot] edu



Dr. William Size


wsize [at] emory [dot] edu


Dr. Barry Ryan


bryan [at] emory [dot] edu


Aubrey Tingler

Aubrey [dot] elise [dot] tingler [at] emory [dot] edu


Daniel Rochberg

Daniel [dot] rochberg [at] emory [dot] edu


Greg Harper

harper [dot] greg [at] epa [dot] gov




  1. Brady, Jeff, and Scott Horsley. “What You Need To Know About The Keystone XL Oil Pipeline.” NPR. NPR, 17 Nov. 2014. Web. 02 Feb. 2015.
  1. FactCheck. 2014. “Pipeline Primer: The Keystone XL project: We examine the facts about jobs, spills, climate change and gasoline prices.” Accessed:
  1. United States Environmental Protection Agency. 2014.“Climate Change: Basic Information.” Accessed:
  1. Facing the Future. Accessed: astFacts/tabid/175/Default.aspx#.VOJuXJUmW0s
  1. The Sierra Club. facts.html
  1. Friends of the Earth. “Keystone XL Pipeline.” Accessed:
  1. Pembina Institute. “Climate Impacts.” Accessed:
  1. Levi, Michael A. 2009. “The Canadian Oil Sands: Energy Security vs. Climate Change.” p 11. Council on Foreign Relations.

Anecdotal Lead

Anecdotal Lead:


“Atlanta is a city within a forest,” Andrea Lund, the manager of the Emory Vector Ecology Lab explains. This makes Atlanta the perfect home for wildlife and birds and mosquitoes are the main pools for West Nile Virus.


The slow hum of the Caron insect growth chamber rumples peacefully in the background, growing who knows what. Andrea, who holds an MPH from Rollins School of Public Health, sits comfortably in a rolling chair as she explains the concerns of West Nile Virus.


Sunlight streams in from the big windows lining both sides of the lab. “West Nile Virus is a scary disease, it can get into your brain and cause death or permanent damage,” she discusses. The lab focuses on mosquito collection and WNV testing.


Nut Grafs:


Due to massive fines, the old Atlanta sewer system was transitioned to a newer model. After the system got fixed, the lab monitored these mosquitos’ reservoirs.


There was a dramatic drop in the mosquito counts. The lab continues to monitor these creeks, where the mosquitoes breed. However, they are moving on to new projects.