State Responses to the Adverse Impacts of Energy Development - DRAFT
Among the states experiencing rapid energy development, Texas can be distinguished by its lack of public outcry about the local impacts of energy development, despite the fact that adverse impacts have occurred. It may be that residents of impacts areas or boomtowns do not expect anyone to take them seriously or that the percentage of communities affected is so small that their collective voice amounts to only a whisper. They may lack the political sophistication to demand attention. Boomtown residents may expect the long-term benefits to compensate them for the personal and citywide costs, which they perceive to be temporary. The amenities in today's cities that began as energy boomtowns -- Houston, Beaumont -- look inviting to boomtown residents. They expect these and similar benefits eventually to exceed the costs and suffering imposed by rapid growth. For whatever reason public and state officials have behaved as though energy impacts have been insignificant. However, some officials have begun recognizing these impact as significant and as deserving state attention. This case study addresses the questions, "How has energy development affected local communities in Texas?" and "How have state and local officials responded to adverse impacts?" In particular, this study focuses on the local point of view -- the affected community's perspective of local problems -- which often reflects previous experience with energy development. Some of these communities lack actual "boomtown" experience, but they are familiar with the stories surrounding Texas' oil boom days. Although the state of Texas responds to many different aspects of energy development, this study discusses only those actions and opinions bearing some relationship to the adverse impacts felt at the local level.