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A pause for energy developers threatening Texas big bend region

Opportunity to protect a way of life confronted by oil and clean energy.

A windmill on the land of Bodie Means, 68, near Valentine, Texas. The Davis Mountain Range is in the background.

Bodie Means - 432-935-1101

By Keith Schneider Circle of Blue

Keith Schneider is senior editor and chief correspondent at Circle of Blue. He has reported on the contest for energy, food, and water from six continents.

“So few people have gained a foothold that this part of West Texas rivals Alaska for fewest people per square mile.”

The town of Marfa, Texas is in the middle of nowhere with pristine, nearly untouched land all around it. Marfa offers a unique art scene and chique restaurants have created a high end atmosphere bringing in jobs and raising real estate prices. Although, some locals cannot afford to live there.

A lull. How long?

Brian Lehmann/Circle of Blue. Outside Marfa, Texas, a fake Prada store embodies the town’s critique of pop art and consumerism. Manny Perez, 78, vacuums the display.

Response to energy sprawl

“Wind and solar developers don’t need state permits to start construction. Water use in much of the Permian basin is unregulated, and wastewater disposal permits are easy to obtain.”

Bodie Means, 68, roping calves at a small horse arena in Valentine, Texas with his best friend Chuy Navarrete, 50. Water can make or break ranching. If too much drought during a season Means will be forced to sell his head of cattle.

Chuy Navarrete - 432-290-6954

One of the last wild places

The town of Marfa, Texas displays a lot of unique art, like this 1956 James Dean plywood cutout scene based off of the film Giant. Marfa’s unique art scene and chique restaurants have created a high end atmosphere bringing jobs and real estate much higher. In turn some locals cannot afford to live there.

Across the border: Big trouble

“It’s not only fossil fuels that were booming. Renewable energy developers also moved into the region, displaying the same zeal for constructing big wind and solar generating stations.”

Brian Lehmann/Circle of Blue. The classic western “Giant” was filmed in Marfa in the 1950s. The landscape outside town today looks much like it did when James Dean starred in the film.

New response strategy needed