Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Energy resources help states weather recession

States with strong revenue from energy are among those emerging from the recession in the best shape. "Since the recession officially ended in June 2009, a group of about 10 states that have outperformed the nation almost continuously for 25 or more years again is generating new income at a faster pace than the rest of the nation," Dennis Cauchon of USA Today reports. States including Texas, North Carolina, Idaho and Alaska have used energy revenue to weather the recession. "Even coal states such as Kentucky have enjoyed strong income gains," Cauchon writes

"Idaho ranked 10th in personal income growth in the year since the recession's end, up from 50th among states and Washington, D.C., during the recession," Cauchon writes. "That's the USA's biggest rebound." Bibiana Nertney of the Idaho Department of Commerce, explained, "Our pipeline of companies looking to expand or relocate here is the biggest it's been in a decade." Sun Belt states, including Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia are among those doing the worse since the recession officially ended in June 2009. (Read more)

Several western states are hoping to get in on the energy boom in preparation for an oil rush. "Not many wells have been drilled yet, but just about everything else is in place for an oil boom in eastern Wyoming, northern Colorado and western Nebraska, where the Niobrara Shale and its hard-to-tap crude lay nearly two miles underground," Mead Gruver of The Associated Press reports. "Preliminary work is under way to map underground geological formations to figure out the best places to drill. Oil prospectors are poring over courthouse records to see who holds mineral rights so they can negotiate deals."

Oil money has helped North Dakota coast through the recession will the lowest unemployment of any state at 3.6 percent and a $500 million budget surplus. Companies are hoping the Niobara Shale holds vast reserves of recoverable oil like North Dakota's Bakken Shale. Still, fear of oil spills and possible water contamination from hydraulic fracturing have tempered enthusiasm in the region. "Beverly Hillbillies, rags to riches, (because) we've got oil," Diane Bishop, who owns 70 acres near Cheyenne, told Gruver. "Not necessarily. ... We'll be lucky to get enough money to pay the taxes on our property out there," Bishop said." (Read more)

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