Despite its modest sample size, the recent Dickinson Press survey on attitudes toward the oil boom is instructive: two-thirds of southwestern North Dakotans hate it.
Perhaps that states the obvious, and yet so-called leaders either don’t get it, or are deliberately ignoring that residents are fed up with man camps, unsafe communities and traffic, outrageous rental rates and unsightly impacts to the land.
While they express concern for overloaded physical infrastructure, they pay no heed to the overwhelmed spiritual and emotional infrastructure of longtime inhabitants.
Did any of the companies or state “leaders” bother to ask if we wanted to live in an oil patch no matter the impact on way of life?
While greed may be a virtue in another universe, it is not in ours.
Most longtime Dakotans kind of liked what we had before — blue sky, good roads, light traffic, an agriculturally driven economy, relative safety from afflictions of the rest of America, and the reasonable expectation that our rural, western innocence was a good thing.
We survived the recent economic distress of the rest of America relatively unscathed, yet we are now creating a monster oil bubble which will inevitably bust, leaving stoic locals with a very real mess to clean up — again.
It was never our job to rescue the rest of America from its excesses by employing masses, nor is it up to us to supply America with oil. Yes, we do have a responsibility to ameliorate some of both, but not at the cost of self-annihilation of people and land.
We should keep some of our valuable oil where Mother Nature has kept it for millions of years — in oil-bearing formations, just in case America and North Dakota need oil in 50 or 500 years. Why the mad rush?
Wisdom would also suggest that we keep some oil-related jobs for future North Dakotans and Montanans.
Prudence would also suggest that we start limiting the cause of our overwhelmed landscape and communities rather than just the symptoms (deteriorating infrastructure and a western way of life).
Imagine how refreshing it would be if the oil companies would exercise self-restraint and responsibility to the land and people?
Imagine that, and that the so-called state “leaders” realize that the majority of western North Dakotans have had it with this extreme “oil boom” and its disastrous consequences. If not, we all vote in the next election.
John A. Heiser, Grassy Butte