For the younger inhabitants of America’s oil boom towns, “future-proofing” their communities by investing in green energy is a necessary adventure, even if it’s “like staring into the abyss” for older residents.
Exploring how small towns in Texas, Wyoming, and New Mexico are planning—and not—for the energy transition, Bloomberg writes that “getting the timing right can mean the difference between losing out on the last great boom and turning into a ghost town.”
The inclination to ignore the ticking on the fossil clock is strong, with many oil towns unwilling—or unable due to staffing shortages—to look more than a few years down the road. At the state level, without a plan B when oil goes bust, Texas could find itself with “an annual budget shortfall of US$5.8 billion for K-12 education alone.”
Some are taking the longer view, however. Health Haynes, 29, economic development head for the West Texas town of Denver City, is determined to build a diversified work force, with wind and solar part of the mix.
“Fifty years down the road, 100 years down the road, when I’m not here anymore, I would like for Denver City to still be here,” he said.