Eastern Utah Experiences Energy Boom

Eastern Utah Experiences Energy Boom

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John Hollenhorst reportingEastern Utah is in the midst of its biggest energy boom in decades, possibly the biggest ever. And there are signs the energy fever will go even higher.

Most people in the Vernal area are delighted, of course, but the boom is creating serious challenges.

In the energy game, there are two words that seem interlocked: boom and bust. It's hard to have one without the other.

The Vernal area had a big bust a couple of decades ago. The question is, if the current boom busts, will the area be ready?

The pace of drilling near Vernal is extraordinary by any standard. Every time they set up one of these drilling rigs, it costs upwards of a million bucks, and more than two dozen rigs are drilling right now.

Some are going after oil. But most are hoping to hit Natural Gas. It's in high demand and prices are good.

The drilling fever caused jobs in the area to jump a hefty ten percent in just 6 months.

There are so many new jobs, there aren't enough workers in the Vernal area. So they're coming in from out of state.

That means a housing shortage. Workers are living in motels, and they're on waiting lists for homes.

Local officials are mostly delighted with the boom, which may get even bigger.

Mike McKee/ Uintah COunty Commission: "One company we've been informed is going to put $400-million in here next year. Another one has indicated about $250-million."

Bill Johnson/ Uintah County Economic Development Director: "It's good for the community if we plan properly and we try to keep ourselves as diverse as possible, so we're not so dependent on this that we don't just dry up and all move away."

The boom has stirred controversy from environmentalists. And it's caused some locals to do some soul searching about the future of their children. We''ll have more on that tonight at ten.

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