In "Vernal among fastest growing 'micropolitan' areas" (Tribune, March 14), banker and state Sen. Kevin Van Tassell, R-Vernal, said that Vernal's growth is sustainable because oil and gas production could rise for decades. Unfortunately, the mere ability to produce oil does not make it sustainable.
What policymakers should fear is a drop in the price of oil and natural gas; in both cases, a real possibility.
In 2001, coffee prices collapsed; in the 1970s, it was copper; in the early 1980s, it was wheat and corn. In each case, nothing had changed to make production more difficult. But prices had fallen, and mines and farms that had been profitable at higher prices no longer were. Mines were shuttered and farmland repossessed at great personal and social cost.