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Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar visits Dunn County Lodge in oil country

Press Photo by Dain Sullivan U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, right, and North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad high-five after a game of foosball on Monday during a tour of Dunn County Lodge, north of Dickinson.1 / 4
Press Photo by Dain Sullivan Sen. Kent Conrad, right, talks with Congressman Rick Berg during a Monday tour at the Dunn County Lodge north of Dickinson.2 / 4
Press Photos by Dain Sullivan U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar tours Dunn County Lodge north of Dickinson on Monday.3 / 4
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, center, shares insight during a Dunn County Lodge tour on Monday.4 / 4

U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar made three major speculations after touring Dunn County Lodge on Monday: residential camps should be referred to as "crew camps," not "man camps;" water fracturing is OK; and while North Dakota is a role model for the country, there are problems that need attention.

Salazar visited the area as part of his tour of oil and gas development in western North Dakota.

Followed closely by a few state representatives and an excited crowd, Salazar sported jeans, a baseball cap and a smile as he strolled through the site, which is owned by Target Logistics and located north of Dickinson off Highway 22.

Throughout the tour, Salazar walked about without bodyguards, and with North Dakota Sens. John Hoeven and Kent Conrad and Congressman Rick Berg while discussing whether the Lodge should be referred to as a "crew camp," considering men are not the only ones who reside there.

Travis Kelley, regional vice president for Target Logistics, said women make up 10-15 percent of the residents.

"In the oil and gas world, you have workers from all kinds of different backgrounds," he said. "You're going to have women involved in the Oil Patch in continuing significant numbers, so I think calling them crew camps is the right thing to do."

Some crowd members posed questions regarding the use of water fracturing, which occurs when water, grit and chemicals are pumped underground at high pressure to crack, or fracture, oil-bearing shale rock and promote oil flow. When people asked whether the process is a threat to the environment, Salazar shared his thoughts.

"We are supporters of hydraulic fracturing," he said. "The president's position and mine on hydraulic fracturing has been that it is a technological positive that has allowed us to move forward with the kind of robust oil and gas development that we're seeing all across the country."

Salazar also said hydraulic fracturing has negative consequences if not monitored closely.

"It has been done safely," he said. "We know that that's the case almost everywhere that it's been done. The fact is also that you can have water quality issues that can compromise the environment is if isn't done right."

Salazar said he is impressed with North Dakota's growing oil industry, but state representatives reminded him that there are still problems that need attention.

"We need more housing. There's no question," Hoeven said.

Housing pains come with the territory, Salazar said, adding that he understands that an oil boom brings certain "consequences," to those who cannot afford housing.

"It's very important for us to come and understand those impacts," he said.

Representatives also want to get the ball rolling on oil-related projects.

"First of all, let's get the Keystone Pipeline built," Berg said.

Conrad expressed concerns regarding crime and law enforcement.

"Anytime there's a boom, we know there are other people who come who are more difficult, more challenging and frankly are here for no good purpose," he said, adding that local law enforcement should work closely with state and federal agencies.

Salazar said he understands North Dakota faces challenges, but is also happy to see economic growth.

"The place is really ground zero on oil and gas production on-shore in the United States of America," he said. "There's a huge future here, and it's a future which President Obama and I very much support."