For Sale: North Dakota’s Way Of Life.

I can barely stomach news about Western North Dakota these days.  Every day it is something – either in the local or national news; unfortunately, it is so rarely good news.  The infrastructure cannot support the oil boom, the environment is suffering, criminal activities are on the rise, and the identity of the state is changing dramatically (and not in good ways).  I am just a transplant with 15 years in, but even I can tell you that this wholesale sell out of North Dakota is wrong for North Dakota.

One of my old law school chums sent me an article from MSNBC about the blessings and curses of the oil boom.  It was just another reminder for me of how troubling the oil patch and its implications are for our state.  The article focused more on environmental impacts than social impacts, but those impacts alone should give every North Dakotan pause.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

“According to data obtained by ProPublica, oil companies in North Dakota  reported more than 1,000 accidental releases of oil, drilling wastewater or  other fluids in 2011, about as many as in the previous two years combined. Many more illicit releases went unreported, state regulators acknowledge, when  companies dumped truckloads of toxic fluid along the road or drained waste pits illegally.

State officials say most of the releases are small. But in several cases,  spills turned out to be far larger than initially thought, totaling millions of  gallons. Releases of brine, which is often laced with carcinogenic chemicals and  heavy metals, have wiped out aquatic life in streams and wetlands and sterilized  farmland. The effects on land can last for years, or even decades.

Compounding such problems, state regulators have often been unable — or  unwilling — to compel energy companies to clean up their mess, our reporting  showed.

Under North Dakota regulations, the agencies that oversee drilling and water  safety can sanction companies that dump or spill waste, but they seldom do: They  have issued fewer than 50 disciplinary actions for all types of drilling  violations, including spills, over the past three years.”

Scary stuff.  The illustration below that was included with the article provides a good overview of the process of hydraulic fracturing and its risks.

I fear for North Dakota.  Sound the alarm folks – there is a big cost that goes with this benefit.  North Dakota is not an afterthought to be thrown away for economic benefit.  North Dakota is a way of being, thinking, and living that puts quality of life over the trappings of economic gain…or it used to be that place.

Our way of life and the things we value about the state are changing dramatically.  Step up North Dakotans and make it clear to those who are harvesting North Dakota without regard for its long-term well-being that this state and our way of life is not for sale.

Day one thousand and seventy of the new forty – obla di obla da

Ms. C

8 Responses

  1. Barbara

    It sure looks like “money rules” doesn’t it, Beverly! I think we need to start thinking long term the way our Native people did (and many still do). The concepts and definitions of “Wealth” and “Riches” and “The Good Life” need to be revised in our minds before we stop allowing Money Rules to rule us. I learned that by growing up poor moneywise, but rich in all the ways that have true lasting value. Right now I want so much for that to be the case for beautiful North Dakota.

  2. This is happening all over America. GREED has taken over Morals, Respect, Honesty, Dignity, Pride and Love of Country. As the old saying goes, DON’T SPIT IN THE WELL YOU DRINK FROM. But when greed get ahold of all these things, common sense goes in the toilet. Jesus said on the cross, Father forgive them for they know not what they do. Only difference these FOOLS, know what they are doing and don’t know what they are doing at the same time. The greed of Money has blinded them.

  3. Dan

    There is a problem with your sources. First, MSNBC and ProPublica are not credible sources of information. ProPublica doesn’t disclose their sourches on the article you reference. They begin, “According to data obtained by ProPublica”. Of course they both have political agendas. ProPublica was founded by Herbert Sandler. The Federal Election Commission database shows that he and his wife gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic Party campaigns. Knowing this, I would discount most if not all claims made by either MSNBC and ProPublica. I would suggest that if you are truly concerned about what is going on in western North Dakota, you get in your car that burns gasoline and drive there yourself. I have a cousin who works in the oil fields. This is how he provides a living for his family. It sickens me how the liberal left tries to trash energy jobs they deem as “not green”. We need oil and coal. The dreaded CO2 that is put into the atmosphere by humans amounts to only 5% at best. The reamining 95% occurs naturally. You can learn more about this a

  4. Barbara

    Yikes–one should not write when feeling too emotional about an issue! No, I do NOT wish for ND to be impoverished moneywise (even though ND truly is “The Good Life” in every other way). Does that clarify a little?

  5. I feel for the people in the western part of the state. The people that were there before, the boom. The people on fixed incomes, and how prices have changed. I believe it provided many oportunities for some and hardship for others. I never lock my door in my house or pull keys from my vehicles. One day I had a friend of mine call me on a sunday, “hey what are you up to, I wish the bar was open I am so thirsty for a beer and was driving by your place thought I would call.” Told him to go into my house and grab a beer, so he did, but another lady was at my house picking eggs, which I told her they could, this was all while I was not at home, nor was anyone else. You can do that where I live, but bet you cant do that in western ND or even in Fargo.

  6. Barbara

    I think that what concerns people about the changes in western ND is partly the physical environmental impact, but more so what Keven refers to: the vanishing of trust, civility and neighborliness which are all being thrown under the bus (or the rig) by plain old Greed. The good old down-home values and decency are what made ND a great place in the first place.

Comments are closed.