MEEKER, Colo. — The news of a nationwide energy boom is almost too much for people in this town built atop a sea of oil shale and natural gas, where rusting tanks line the highways and ExxonMobil helped to finance the 4-H club’s new community center.
Elsewhere — seemingly everywhere else but here, locals say — an oil and gas stampede is transforming towns from the green hills of western Pennsylvania to the plains of North Dakota and eastern Colorado, bringing a flood of money, jobs and attendant environmental concerns.
But here, in a region rich in natural resources, where oil and gas jobs form the bedrock of the local economy, the boom has dried up. Energy jobs have flowed to Wyoming, Texas and Pennsylvania. Main Street businesses are struggling, and big new schools built to accommodate a surge of students from the last energy rush are now watching their enrollments dwindle.