State Responses to the Adverse Impacts of Energy Developments in Texas



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Massachusetts Institute of Technology Laboratory of Architecture and Planning


Among the states experiencing the impacts of rapid energy development, Texas is distinguished by a lack of public outcry, despite the fact that adverse impacts have occurred. It may be that residents of impacted 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 that perceive to be temporary. Cities that begin as energy boomtowns -- Houston, Beaumont -- may now look inviting to boomtown residents. They expect these and similar benefits eventually to exceed the costs and suffering imposed by rapid growth. For whatever reasons, public attention has not focused on the adverse impacts of energy development, and most state officials have behaved as though the impacts have been insignificant. A few officials, however, have begun to realize that these impacts are significant and deserve 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 -- 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.


80 pages; available for download at the link below.


energy development, energy policy, rapid energy development, infrastructure