July 25, 2011


High Country News, the award-winning magazine covering the American West, has teamed up with the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University to produce a groundbreaking story on the rising influence of foreign countries, especially China, on the West’s extractive industries.


“The Old West-style extractive economy has roared back to life, powered by the ever-growing energy needs of countries like China,” says HCN publisher Paul Larmer. “Whether it is coal, oil, copper or gold, we are on the edge of an historic surge in resource development that may last for decades."


“We live in a global West,” said Jon Christensen, executive director of the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University. “Even the most remote rural areas of the American West are plugged into the global economy. This has long been true. And it is even more so today.”


The story, six months in the making, includes an in-depth cover story, sidebars and an interactive map on the Web. Visit to see this in-depth package of coverage.

It examines global connections in several ways, including direct investment by foreign countries and companies, and the indirect stimulation of drilling and mining caused by an unprecedented rise in commodity prices. It also looks at how Western states and their rural communities are eagerly embracing this new wave of globalism as a way to side-step a deep recession.


While HCN contributing editor Jonathan Thompson reported on this story for High Country News, researchers at the Bill Lane Center's Rural West Initiative examined trends in direct foreign investment and the effect of global demand in the energy sector, which is booming in the West. Robert Jackman, a Stanford graduate student in public policy, whose sidebar to Thompson's story explores three future scenario's for global energy demand and its impact on the West, prepared a working paper on foreign influence in the West's energy sector available on the Center's website ( Graduate students in computer science at Stanford created an interactive online map of current foreign investment in energy and mining operations in the West to accompany the reports.


“The Rural West Initiative here at Stanford seeks to bring scholars and journalists together to examine the key forces shaping the American West today,” said Christensen. “By joining forces with High Country News we hope to encourage a lively and well-informed public conversation about the rural West's past, present, and future.”


"Projects like this are a natural fit for collaboration between academic and journalistic organizations," says Larmer. "We both care about context, depth and the use of data to tell compelling stories that make a difference."


Visit to see this in-depth package of coverage.


Paul Larmer, Jon Christensen and author Jonathan Thompson are available for interviews. You may also wish to reprint this story. See contract information below.



JoAnn Kalenak, Syndication Coordinator               

High Country News               

970-527-4898 x19

[email protected]


Paul Larmer, Publisher               

High Country News               

970-527-4898 x20

[email protected]


Jonathan Thompson, freelance journalist

High Country News contributing editor and

Ted Scripps Environmental Journalism fellow

[email protected]


Jon Christensen

Executive Director

Bill Lane Center for the American West

Stanford University

[email protected]

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