Saturday, April 2, 2011

In a Land Far Away

A friend and former co-worker of my husband has recently gone to find a job in North Dakota. He was laid off at the same time (about two years ago) as my husband but unlike my husband has not been able to find steady work around here. So he is off to stay in a man-camp in North Dakota to take advantage of the work available from the oil drilling.

I am not sure if the man-camp that this article talks about is where he is going, but these places are popping up all over the state as people who are looking for work have no other place to live. People are leaving their families behind and going for several months in the hopes that they can avoid bankruptcy with the money they can make on a temporary basis.  There are plenty of jobs out there, but little housing

There are currently over 100 drilling rigs that are active in North Dakota now. Oil companies are investing millions of dollars in new wells. According to one article I read, western North Dakota has large oil reserves that have more oil that the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. I suppose the cry of “drill, baby, drill” is heard all over that part of the country.

Like Pennsylvania, the oil is deep within the shale and it is expensive to extract. They are saying that with improved technology, the oil will be gettting easier to obtain. Unlike Pennsylvania, the company pays a tax to do the drilling. Back in 2006, North Dakota officials approved about permits for 500 new oil wells. All that activity means a great surplus for state government. The oil tax brought in $170 million in 2005 and I can only imagine what it brings in now. One thing is for sure, North Dakota has the lowest unemployment rate in the country.

But with every positive there is a negative, and oil extraction has some really heavy negatives.  I hope that they are paying attention to the harm that is being caused by this drilling because there are some serious health issues that can come out of the drilling, all due to the considerable loss of fresh water. According to an article I read, they only recycle 20% of the water they use for the fracking process and they use 7 million gallons per day.  Now they want to drain the river for more.  Furthermore, there are no regulations on companies to let us know what is in the water after the process has occured, so there is no telling what humans will  ultimately unknowingly consume.  When you think of all the things we use water for, this hunger for oil could be quite hazardous to our health.

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