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Expand chart
Reproduced from report from Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy and Resources for the Future; Chart: Axios Visuals

The federal government should take new steps to help oil-producing regions navigate boom-and-bust cycles and diversify their economies, two nonpartisan think tanks say in a new report.

Why it matters: The decade-long oil boom has transformed the U.S. into the world’s largest producer. But that growth has increased the number of communities vulnerable to market volatility.

What they found: The report from Resources for the Future and a Columbia University energy think tank suggests two main policies.

  1. Congress should instruct the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration to provide grants to oil producing communities and fund economic diversification for those regions.
  2. The government should create an Oil Volatility Advisory Board to connect oil producing regions with experts from departments like Commerce and Energy, and help those areas take advantage of existing funding opportunities. The authors say this is more politically feasible since it could be implemented by the executive branch alone.

Where it stands: The biggest risk to oil-heavy communities in places like eastern New Mexico and west Texas is becoming overly dependent on oil production, which can crowd out investment in other sectors — leading to a non-diverse economy that doesn't do well long-term.

  • Oil and gas producers shed one-third of their labor force in the three years after prices crashed in 2014, as seen in the above charts.
  • "[In] my personal experience, local officials are not looking to the federal government as a resource to help them navigate these new challenges related to volatility," Resources for the Future analyst Daniel Raimi tells Axios — adding that "a modest effort" at the federal level could make a difference.

Between the lines: "I don’t know if either of those options are likely to be adopted, but given Washington’s celebration of the oil boom, it seems like there may be some appetite," Raimi says. "Our main goal is to simply put the issue on the table."

Go deeper: The shale boom has become a check on the market's long-term volatility

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Manchin's massive means test

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is offering progressives a trade: He'll vote for their cherished social programs if they accept strict income caps for the recipients, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Manchin’s plan to use so-called means-testing for everything from paid family medical leave to elder and disabled care would drastically shrink the size and scope of the programs. It also would bring a key moderate vote to the progressive cause.

The China whisperer

Nick Burns. Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

President Biden's nominee for ambassador to China will face aggressive questioning Wednesday about the most important, and potentially perilous, bilateral relationship in the world.

Why it matters: While Nick Burns is an experienced diplomat with support on both sides of the aisle, lawmakers want to use his confirmation hearing to force the administration into some tough positions on China.

Jan. 6 committee recommends contempt charges against Bannon

Steve Bannon. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riots unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday night recommending that former Trump aide Steve Bannon be held in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena.

Why it matters: The resolution sets up a House vote to refer Bannon for potential criminal prosecution, signaling that the committee will not tolerate attempts by former President Trump and his associates to stymie the investigation.