The natural gas boom is predictably creating a population boom in the mid-west. The dramatic upsurge of American natural gas has created a rush into states like Texas, North Dakota, and Wyoming. The effects of energy development are well documented, in addition to reducing carbon emissions in the long run, natural gas also reduces the cost of keeping families warm, and raises household incomes. It then comes as little surprise that natural gas is now helping states grow and prosper demographically.
According to a report from the Census Bureau “Oil- and gas-rich areas in and near the Great Plains contained many of the fastest-growing areas in the U.S. last year”. While the effects of an oil boom are not unexpected, it is always inspiring to witness the creative force of free enterprise and its effects on communities. In essence, the population growth is a manifestation of American resilience and ingenuity in the face of the existential need to provide for ourselves.
In fact, six out of the ten fastest-growing metropolitan areas were “within or near the Great Plains”. The amazing thing about this is that the growth is coming accompanied with new high-tech drilling and extraction jobs and the added tax revenue to boot. Unfortunately not all states are interested in cheap energy, a growing economy, and an expanding tax base.
States like New York have decided not to pursue energy friendly policies which would help New Yorkers. With the moratorium of hydraulic fracturing, the Empire State will not be able to experience the economic benefits of natural gas until at least 2015. Meanwhile, New York has also experienced sluggish population growth, so slow that it is expected to fall behind Florida in the coming years. This recent growth, however, has not upset a longstanding trend of decline. Between the years 2000 and 2010 New York lost a net 1.6 million residents just in out migration.
Hopefully the residents of New York will see the energy revolution taking place across the country and seek to unleash their state’s latent resources. The fires of innovation will burn somewhere in the nation no matter what, it is simply in the classic spirit of American entrepreneurship. The question will be where it will manifest and with what intensity. As the benefits of natural gas compound, let’s hope that the communities willing to embrace this revolutionary technology will multiply alongside them.
Photo Credit: Paul Ealing 2011