Tall city boomtown: A study of the effects of a hydraulic fracturing boom on Midland, TX



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This thesis examines the effects that the “Great American Energy Boom” had on crime, health, and sense of place in Midland, TX from 2009-2014. This oil boom greatly impacted the economy of the city. Midland witnessed record low unemployment rates and unprecedented economic growth due to increased oil and gas production. In the international literature on towns who have secured large oil and gas projects, ‘Boomtown’ has a particular meaning. In particular, the ‘Boomtown Syndrome’ describes the attitudes and issues communities develop and face from the inception of the project through to the end of construction when operations start and the large construction workforce is drawn down. Social disruption theory asserts that communities experiencing resource booms generally “enter a period of generalized crisis and loss of traditional routines and attitudes”. This research focuses on a boomtown, examines the social disruptions that resulted from the boom and measures the effect that these disruptions had on local residents. To examine this impact, I conducted interviews with city officials, health professionals, law enforcement professionals, and community residents. Natural resource booms, and all booms, tremendously transform communities economically and socially. The effects of these booms permeate all facets of the community. These effects transform the experiences of the residents of the community as well as the perception of the city from visitors and outsiders. In Midland, the oil boom had many unintended social and economic consequences that will affect the city for years to come.



Urban geography, Petroleum, Health, Economic geography, Geography of health, Energy humanities, Midland, Boomtown, Sense of place, Social disruption theory, Permian Basin, Hydraulic fracturing, Environment, Crime