Oil Boom Reviving Tiny Prairie Towns

The AP did a story in April about the oil boom and Ghosts of North Dakota supplied one of the photos of Appam, North Dakota. Watch the video from the AP’s Martha Irvine.

7 thoughts on “Oil Boom Reviving Tiny Prairie Towns

  1. I fear for North Dakota, a place that captures my heart and my imagination. There is far more to the equation than unregulated economic growth. There are social, political and environmental factors that need to be considered. Unfortunately this does not happen because the growth happens at the speed of light and takes precedent over everything else. Reference Houston, Texas. I would be curious to know if the locals have any say in all of this or are they at the whim of the corporations? Have their lives really improved and are they prepared for the inevitable oil spill disaster? Reference Gulf Coast/BP oil spill; Enbridge spill, Kalamazoo, Michigan. I get the need for a decent, living wage. I also get that humans utterly destroyed America’s grasslands in the name of progress and we seem to be fast at it again, this time in the name of energy. When the last bit of oil has been extracted and the Barrons pack up and leave, the locals will be left with a rotting, rusting industrial wasteland and a raped land. I cannot help but wonder if there isn’t a better way. Hire more cops now. The riff raff will show up in droves and alter the social fabric of these small towns in ways that you cannot imagine. Lock your doors and your cars. It’s a new day. And I’m not sure anything can be done except to run.


  2. I grew up in North Dakota — in Traill County, eastern side — but this documentary strikes me as among the best I’ve seen, in terms of fairness to all, the old residents and newcomers both. Some great interviews here, people who, I’m sure, are indeed representative of various segments. For the blond guy who said he hated the work, wasn’t happy, even he deserves credit: he’s working! While millions of his contemporaries have gone on the dole in one way or another, given up on looking for work, this guy is out there doing the needful to support himself. And the father who’s missing his daughter’s birthday? Wow — lots of credit there. Lesser individuals would have given up and walked away. Then there’s the guy who’s happy — who likes it in Williston, then realizes his grandfather came from there. He’s a real quality addition. Seems to me as rough as these early days are, North Dakota is still attracting quality people, those who will work hard and manage this dramatic transition.

    I’m sure huge credit goes to people like Williston’s mayor, now in his 17th year, who has kept his city running, more or less peaceably, through this drastic change. That can’t have been easy.

    Only one criticism of the film: it keeps repeating that “the oil companies” are making a lot of money. True, they are. But so are the people working there. So are the people who owned land or buildings there. So are the shareholders who invested in this technology — they’re making LOTS of money, and they don’t even have to live in North Dakota! . And beyond that — also benefiting are all of us who need and use the oil that’s being produced. The sooner the US gets off the Middle East’s tit as far as oil is concerned, the better off the country will be, not only in terms of cheaper oil, but in the need to defend all those really gawd-awful places, when one Muslim group decides to eliminate another Muslim group and suddenly the US has to send troops in to try to keep them all alive.

    So yes, the oil companies are making money — so do hi-tech companies, big pharma, big industry of all kinds. In doing so, they give jobs to the less creative, make a good life possible for not just people who work for them, or who own shares, but also people who benefit from their product, whatever it is.

    That’s the way free enterprise is supposed to work. That’s America at its best.


  3. Yes, the oil boom is creating a whole lot of jobs, which is a good thing. And the small towns around the oil fields are getting bigger. And some people are getting really rich. But, in the long run, I wonder how much damage to the enviornment is being done, especially by fracking. Some day the oil is going to run out. Of everywhere. Then what? Back in the 1970’s we were warned about excessive oil use and the need to invent more gas efficient vehicles. And for awhile it seemed like the automobile companies were really trying. But for some reason that didn’t last long and we are still driving big gas-eating vehicles. I owned 3 Geo-Metros back in the day. The ones with the 3 cylinder Suzuki engine. They were great little cars in many ways. I even got 52 miles per gallon with one of them (driving in perfect conditions). You can’t even find a new car nowadays that gets that good of mileage. Then, all of a sudden they quit making them. I have always wondered why. Anyway, by now, there should be vehicles that all get good gas mileage. I guess the big oil companies do not want to see that happen. They just want to milk the earth completely dry of oil and make all the money they can while they can. We need to focus on the future and not just live in the “now”. What’s gonna happen when there’s no more oil? What kind of future are our children and grandchildren going to have? What kind of enviornment are they going to have to live in? This is what we all should be focused on now.


  4. I agree with catnapping; It’s not changing for the better. Yes, there is LOTS of money being thrown around, but that huge bubble is going to pop one day, leaving some hellacious turmoil in its wake. Worse yet, crime is skyrocketing in the areas. Shit, peoples’ dogs (specifically pits) are turning up missing left and right!!

    This is not the North Dakota I know and love…


  5. Sad in some ways, yes. I was in Williston about 1998 and thought it was a neat little midsized town. Really liked the landscape out there, and regret not going to Teddy Roosevelt National Park.

    Dickinson was pretty nice too – went to the dinosaur museum – worth the trip.



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