At a time when many of our political leaders are promoting policies that send jobs overseas and favor importing over producing key commodities like oil at home, a cynic might reasonably wonder if it is even possible to tap into the ingenuity that once set America apart anymore.
Suspend that cynicism: The boom towns we’re highlighting this week are not based overseas; they’re right here in the American heartland, where some innovative people have identified better ways to produce large amounts of energy and seized the opportunity to do so. Their efforts are already providing real tangible benefits to their surrounding communities and offer a glimpse of the better economic times we might all enjoy if we focused more on our country’s wealth of natural resources.
In a rural agricultural region in Oregon, wind farms have come to an area once known for wheat farms. Wind companies were drawn to the region not only because of its windy weather but because of its proximity to the power transmission lines feeding into California. And they have proven to be very good neighbors. The area’s farmers have not only found a way to peacefully coexist with the wind farms, The New York Times reports they are embracing them: Property taxes on the wind farms have generated millions of dollars in revenue that have gone to support once struggling local schools. And residents of Sherman County, where many of the wind turbines are located, even receive an annual dividend check for $590 under a system that provides compensation to the locals.
The town of Carrizo Springs, Texas, meanwhile, has become the site of a modern day oil boom, where companies are preparing to drill some 3,000 fields over the next 12 months. By some accounts, production from this region alone could increase U.S. oil output by 25% in ten years.
Carrizo Springs is not a completely new discovery so much as a discovery about ways to produce onshore oil economically, using hydraulic fracturing, a process that has also enabled producers around the country to tap vast reserves of natural gas long considered unreachable.
Wind in rural Oregon. Oil in South Texas. Two very different energy stories, except for the successes they both are seeing and the results they are reaping: Jobs, revenue, and revived communities that are making the most of their natural resources basking in the prosperity and the pride that results.