2.3 million gallons in 22 months…

My reference point for a gallon is a milk jug. I imagine we go through somewhere close to 50 gallons of milk a year around here.  Not really an awful lot a week, but it seems more substantial when I consider the amount per year.

I don’t usually think too much about milk gallons, but then I read Mike Nowatzki’s recent article for The Forum about brine spills in North Dakota over the past 22 months.   Nowatzki reported that a review of incident reports found that “more than 55,000 barrels of saltwater – about 2.3 million gallons – produced by the oil and gas industry have been spilled on North Dakota land in the past 22 months, posing an environmental risk to soil, plants and freshwater resources in dozens of cases.” I can only think in the scale I know – gallons – and holy moly that is an awful lot of gallons!

Here is a better gauge for you – Nowatzki’s article states, “The amount of saltwater spilled in the state since 2012 would fill nearly four Olympic-size swimming pools. By comparison, during roughly the same time frame, 751 oil spills were reported in North Dakota, spilling a total of about 4,528 barrels of oil, the Associated Press reported last month. Those figures don’t include a 20,600-barrel oil spill discovered near Tioga in September.”

Well, apparently this whole saltwater spill thing is starting to rile folks up.  Landowners in Western North Dakota are speaking up.  Per Galen Peterson, “Saltwater is far more devastating to our environment than oil is.” Peterson “farms near Maxbass in Bottineau County and is secretary of the Northwest Landowners Association.”

As for me, I am troubled.  I have been troubled for awhile now about the price our state is paying for the sake of oil.  It is as if our state was put up for sale to the highest bidder and the highest bidder (big oil money) sees our state as disposable.

Why are we willing to let so many of the beautiful things about this state be stripped away for the sake of money?  As I understand it prostitution is not legal in North Dakota, but that is what is happening in essence here.  The state is being pimped out by leaders who only care about the dollar signs and who have evidenced a complete disregard for the value of the quality of life in North Dakota.

It breaks my heart to see what is happening to this majestic state.  I know I am not alone in my concern for North Dakota.  I know that there are others that think the state needs to regulate more, create a stronger infrastructure to manage the impact the oil patch has had on the state, and develop a long term plan to preserve the way of life that we value as North Dakotans.

With every passing day a little bit more of the state’s soul is carelessly ripped away.  2.3 million gallons of brine and about a million gallons of oil have been spilled in North Dakota over a two year period.  It is time for North Dakotans to start speaking up.  It is time make it clear to big oil that North Dakota is not disposable.

Day one thousand two hundred and thirty-four of the new forty – obla di obla da

Ms. C

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About Ms. C

I teach at NDSU...but I remain a student of life with all the enthusiasm that entails. My favorite saying is, "Sometimes you have to take the leap and build your wings on the way down." In the new forty that is what I am doing...building my wings.
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2 Responses to 2.3 million gallons in 22 months…

  1. jsluggo says:

    Interesting article! Being focused on the things that are disruptive to the enviornment and the way of life in ND, it would be appreciated what could be done about the piles of dead birds at the foot of the windpower towers. Thanks

  2. tim haering says:

    So, your state’s soul is its geology? Then why is harvesting shale oil any worse than indoor plumbing? This is not a North Dakota problem but a humankind problem. Is the easy and fun technology life worth the environmental degradation? You can’t have it back, there is no road back to Cro Magnon’s world. The question is: What is the sane way forward that lets you drive your SUV to Canada every year and heat and cool your house with the indoor plumbing that filters human wastes through the water supply that cools our power and manufacturing plants. I don’t think you know what you’re asking. There is no reset button. This is the world we wrought.

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