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Amy Mall’s Blog

The oil boom in Texas: growing health care needs, no housing for doctors, more need for food aid

Amy Mall

Posted July 24, 2012 in Health and the Environment

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How is the oil boom affecting the quality of life in the Eagle Ford area of Texas? According to a recent article in the San Antonio Express-News, "...the oil boom is straining health care, education and social services." Here are some of the report's findings:

  • health care centers are losing administrative staff to the oil companies.
  • clinics are seeing a spike in sexually transmitted diseases.
  • it is difficult to attract health care professionals to the region because of a severe housing shortage.
  • there are more homeless students.
  • the San Antonio Food Bank, which serves 16 counties, is seeing a rising number of requests for food from families and seniors in the Eagle Ford Shale who are struggling with higher prices for housing and services.
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Comments

BSJul 24 2012 07:55 PM

You forgot to mention the jobs boom, the declining unemployment rate in Texas, the improvements being made to the rural electrical infrastrucutre (and, unfortunately, damage to rural roads that counties are not adequately dealing with), and royalties, rights-of-way, and property sales bringing money to rural areas.

Amy MallJul 24 2012 08:11 PM

As I wrote yesterday, but neglected to add in today's post, economic growth and job opportunities are a good thing. But economic growth should be accompanied by strong environmental safeguards, good corporate practices that avoid spills, law-abiding behavior, infrastructure investment, and preservation of local quality of life--including affordable housing for those who do not work in the industry.

BSJul 24 2012 09:44 PM

You're not going to like hearing this, but it's the small, fly-by-night oil producers and contractors that make a bad name for everyone. The big boys, who tend to think about tomorrow as well as today, tend to do a much better job of following the rules.

As far as quality of life goes, the municipalities need to figure out how to deal with that. I agree it's unfortunate.

Josh MogermanJul 24 2012 10:01 PM

BS, interesting. It sounds like you would be in favor of strong, legally-enforcable drilling regulations that would ensure everyone has to play by the same rules on well construction, waste water management and the like.

BSJul 25 2012 07:03 PM

I've never met anyone who is against common sense regulations to ensure we don't destroy our environment. Competition by itself leads otherwise good people to do bad things in the name of staying ahead of their competition.

What I'm not in favor of is efforts to create rules that serve no purpose other than delaying or slowing oil production. A perfect example of that is the NRDCs efforts to compare fracking in CA to horizontal well fracking in other parts of the country in the hopes of gaining support for a moratorium. The two issues are not even related.

Similarly, I don't think you can say that all the things you listed are actually being caused by the oil boom.

Inside the loopJul 26 2012 12:50 AM

Its now time for the municipalities to step up and do their job. The tax dollars are rolling in and they need to get out of their rocking chairs and take the bull by the horns. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth. It does not all have to be done by regulation and can easily done by setting the example. Walk softly and carry a big stick- if you do the opposite you will force the good fortune to another part of the play that has their act together. There is plenty to go around for everyone right now so don't waste the opportunity to make things as easy as comfortable as possible for the oil companies, just make sure you reciprocate on the services and infrastructure side. FYI- I have no skin in the game, just an envious outsider looking in from San Antonio

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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