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Report: Energy and the Global West

Last modified Mon, 25 Jul, 2011 at 16:18

Global Players in the West's Extraction Economy

Last modified Thu, 28 Jul, 2011 at 14:08

Examining The Global West

By Jon Christensen

We live in a global West. Even the most remote rural areas of the American West are plugged into the global economy. This has long been true. And it is even more so today. The connections between the local and the global run from the simple and straightforward to the complicated. In the current issue of High Country News, reporter Jonathan Thompson traces some of the connections that constitute this “Global West” through production and trade of natural resources, particularly energy and minerals. 

While Thompson reported on this story for High Country News in Douglas, Wyoming, and other parts of the West, researchers here at the Bill Lane Center's Rural West Initiative closely examined trends in direct foreign investment and the effect of global demand on the energy sector, which is booming in the West. Robert Jackman, a Stanford graduate student in public policy, wrote a sidebar for Thompson's story exploring three future scenarios for global energy demand and its impact on the West. Graduate students in computer science working here at the Bill Lane Center created an interactive online map of current foreign investment in energy and mining operations in the West to accompany the reports.

Jackman’s article for High Country News was based on his in-depth report -- the first in our Rural West Initiative Working Paper series -- is available here:

Fossil Fuels, Foreign Trade, and Foreign Investment in the American West

 

Jackman provides a sobering assessment of foreign influence in this crucial sector of the economy of the American West. He found that foreign direct investment in fossil fuel production occurs at a much lower rate than foreign direct investment in the American economy in general. Most of that investment comes from companies based in Europe, Canada, and Australia — and not from Asia — continuing a historical pattern. 

The biggest foreign influence on fossil fuel production comes from rising worldwide consumption of fossil fuels, and that is largely driven by growth in Asian economies. However, the main driver of demand for fossil fuels from the American West continues to overwhelmingly come from domestic consumption in the United States. 

The American West is indeed a “carbon colony.” But it is our carbon colony. 

READ MORE AT REPORT: ENERGY IN THE GLOBAL WEST » 

 

 

Last modified Thu, 18 Aug, 2011 at 13:11

Cow Town to Boom Town: “A Feeding Frenzy”


The new $20 million aquatic center in Pinedale

By Claire Woodard

The influx of wealth from the gas boom has brought a lot of new infrastructure, investment, and business opportunities to Sublette County, Wyoming. But it has also inspired an unfamiliar and sometimes troubling response among residents: greed.

Last modified Thu, 14 Jul, 2011 at 14:22

Cow Town to Boom Town: “Ambivalence”

By Claire Woodard

Residents of Pinedale, Wyoming have decidedly mixed feelings about the area’s gas boom. Though the boom has brought wealth and much opportunity to the community, it has also presented a host of challenges, from a transformed town culture to environmental degradation.

In “Ambivalence,” Pinedale locals share their thoughts on the boom’s benefits and its drawbacks.

Last modified Thu, 14 Jul, 2011 at 14:25

Cow Town to Boom Town: A Series of Multimedia Essays

Click the player above to watch the video, "The Boom: Pinedale, Wyoming in Transition"

 

By Claire Woodard

“Cow Town to Boom Town” is a series of audio-visual essays about the effects of the natural gas boom on the community of Pinedale, Wyoming. The project draws on interviews with residents conducted by the University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center, as part of their oral history collection “Wyoming’s Energy Boom, 1995-2010.” We thank the Center and its Associate Archivist Leslie Waggener for kindly sharing interviews and materials.   

Last modified Thu, 14 Jul, 2011 at 13:47

Tax Revenue, not Employment, Is Lasting Benefit of Energy Extraction in the West, Says a New Report

A new report by Headwaters Economics, a research organization based in Bozeman Montana, says the longest lasting economic benefit from oil, gas, and coal extraction comes from taxes, not from jobs. Jobs in the energy sector are often filled by transients who leave after a field is developed and goes into the production stage, but tax revenues continue to accrue during production. The report generated instant controversy with its recommendation that severance taxes on energy production be increased and that the monies collected be distributed more equitably to local governments to mitigate impacts of energy development on public infrastructure and the environment. The report also asserts that increasing taxes would not deter exploration and drilling. “A growing body of research indicates that taxes have little or no effect on where and when industry chooses to drill for oil and gas,” the report says. http://headwaterseconomics.org/

Last modified Tue, 5 Jul, 2011 at 5:55

The West as Carbon Colony: Echoes of Boom and Bust

Oil Pads in Upper Green River Valley, Wyoming

By John McChesney, Director of the Rural West Initiative

Last modified Tue, 5 Jul, 2011 at 6:01

The West as Carbon Colony: Tempest Over Wild Lands and Unexploited Oil and Gas Leases

By John McChesney, Director of the Rural West Initiative

Energy companies and some congressional Republicans have been up in arms about Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s order 3310, from December 2010, for BLM to inventory public lands for “wilderness characteristics.” If the land is found to be worth protecting, it will receive the designation “Wild Lands.” Oil and gas drilling was put on hold in areas to be surveyed until decisions are made. Energy companies felt the order was a sneaky way to get new wilderness areas without congressional approval.

When asked about the charge that his administration was restraining domestic onshore drilling, here’s what President Obama said: “right now, the industry holds leases on tens of millions of acres — both offshore and on land — where they aren’t producing a thing. So I’ve directed the Interior Department to determine just how many of these leases are going undeveloped and report back to me within two weeks so that we can encourage companies to develop the leases they hold and produce American energy. People deserve to know that the energy they depend on is being developed in a timely manner."

Last modified Tue, 5 Jul, 2011 at 7:11