Environmental Justice / Renewable Energy / Solar Energy / Wind Energy

They grew up around fossil fuels. Now, their jobs are in renewables.

Photographs by Brandon Thibodeaux

CLAWSON, UTAH — “Levi Kudrna was barely into his teens when the North Dakota oil boom started. He grew up in a farming family and loved that life. What oil did to his state, his community, the local way of life, troubled him. He recognizes that the money has been helpful; his school got a library addition from tax proceeds. But he’s also seen highways packed with semi trucks hauling frac sand and heavy equipment and leaving choking dust in their wake. He’s seen the night sky marred by the glare of flaring gas.

Now, Mr. Kudrna is taking classes in an energy industry training program at Bismarck State College. He said he hoped to find a local job in renewables that would provide a steady income to let him continue farming and ranching as a second job.

‘Many local neighbor people lost their focus on farming and ranching, which once was the driving force behind our state wealth, and began working oil field jobs paying so much better than farming ever could,’ Mr. Kudrna said. ‘Many of these people lost part of that neighborly connection they once held.'”

— John Schwartz, The New York Times

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