StateImpact Texas hit the road this week to talk to communities in West Texas about the impacts of drilling and the drought. On Tuesday, we spent the day in Midland, talking to locals, oil field workers and new arrivals about how a massive uptick in drilling is changing the community.
We’ve been posting updates from the road to our Tumblr, here’s a few selections from our time in the Permian Basin, from a barber who thinks there’s more booms to come, to the effects of a housing shortage:
Mose Buchele of StateImpact Texas interviewing Libby Campbell, executive director of the West Texas Food Bank. She says the oil and gas boom has driven the cost of living up, especially rents. That means there’s more demand for food aid than there was before the boom.
Sat down with an oilfield worker over a bowl of pho at this Doughnut shop / Vietnamese food joint in Odessa. He wouldn’t give his name, citing company policy. But he didn’t think many of the roughnecks in Midland would stick around if the boom ends. People are here “to get their money and get out,” he said. When that happens, he said “this will all be tumbleweeds.”
On Tuesday night we moderated a community forum with KXWT West Texas Public Radio, featuring local experts on the impacts of the drilling boom.
Housing is one of the major challenges facing the Midland Odessa area. We’ve spoken with retirees whose rent has been doubled, oil field workers who share one bedroom apartments five ways, and students afraid to move out of bad housing because they don’t know if they can find something new.
To answer the shortage, a housing boom is following the oil boom, but developers are playing catch up. What would happen to all this new construction if the economy slows down?
I met Bruce Connelly at his barber shop on Dixie Blvd. in Odessa. He worked the oilfields during the boom three decades ago. What’s happening now doesn’t compare, he said.
“It’s just getting started,” said Connelly, “we’ve got a lot of booms left.”
Stay tuned for more from the road — and follow along on our Tumblr.