Nuclear waste is not popular in any neighborhood. In West Texas, there’s a battle underway over a plan to create a above ground storage facility for high level waste. Its a bigger problem than West Texas – the nation’s nuclear power plants are quickly running out of room to store the waste. This region has had a long and often contentious relationship with nuclear waste, stretching back to a years-long battle over a planned permanent waste site in the 1980’s and 90’s. Opponents eventually won that fight, but a different site was later built in the Permian Basin.
America’s thirst for oil is as strong as ever. And thanks to a giant boom in North Dakota, more U.S. oil is extracted at home. That’s turned some cattle ranchers into millionaires, a few oil bosses into billionaires and put money in the pockets of working people.
Budgets of oil states are going to be hard hit by the recent slide in oil prices. Measured in dollars, Texas is the clear loser, but in terms of actual on-the-ground impacts, it’s not quite so simple. In the country’s number two oil producing state, North Dakota, falling prices have barely caused a ripple, while in Alaska (ranked fourth), lawmakers are calling it a “fiscal apocalypse.”
The United States has been experiencing an oil and gas boom for the last five years. It has helped the country’s economic recovery and created thousands of jobs for people in states like North Dakota, Wyoming and Texas. But although booms are often heralded for the economic opportunities they provide, they also have a darker side.
Oil prices have been in freefall in recent months, dropping by more than half since June. For energy states, that’s bad news. The American West has a long tradition of booms and busts, and in some states, like North Dakota and Wyoming, they continue to be a defining feature of the economy. But do they have to be?