Take the quiz: The Fracking Truth

by Catherine Haug, May 16, 2012

Right now, many members of our community are working in the Bakken oil fields, the latest fracking mecca, because of the shortage of good paying jobs here in the Flathead. And many public officials are touting the job-creation benefits of fracking large oil-shale deposits like the Bakken. But are these lasting jobs? Or will the Bakken eventually be another series of ghost towns?

The same public officials also project that tapping huge oil and gas deposits in the Bakken will make us independent of foreign oil, and bring the price of fuel down. Is this true? Will the US be the prime beneficiary of Bakken oil? Will we get lower prices at the pump?

How is the tremendous influx of workers impacting the local communities? Was the murder of the Sydney teacher Sherry Arnold an isolated incident? Or is there huge potential for more?

Take the quiz: You don’t know frack and see how well you do. Only 10 multiple choice questions. (Note: not all the questions I ask above are included in the quiz, but they are discussed later in this article). Read on, for more.

From Food and Water Watch:

Do you know the truth about fracking? In communities across the country, they’re learning about fracking the hard way.

Take Ohio, for example. A year ago, few people knew what fracking was. Today, fracking is at the center of a political firestorm, with citizens rallying against it, and oil and gas industry lobbyists putting pressure on state officials to protect their “right” to frack.

In Youngstown, OH, Mayor Sammarone gets it. He knows fracking is dangerous, and this year he bought earthquake insurance for his home — after Youngstown started experiencing fracking-related earthquakes. We haven’t asked him, but we bet Mayor Sammarone would do well on this fracking quiz. …

Whether you live in an area affected by fracking, or whether you’re hundreds of miles away, you need to know how fracking could affect you and your loved ones.

Apart from the dangers of fracking, the communities in and around Williston ND (at the center of the Bakken oil boom) are feeling all sorts of physical and societal pain as a result of the huge influx of workers – pain that is not unlike that experienced by the people who lived at Sutter’s Mill in California.

From Oil-Patch Statistics email:

A meeting was held of the ND Sheriffs’ & Deputies Association in Bismarck, as part of this meeting we had an opportunity to sit down with Law Enforcement from western ND to discuss what they are going through with oil impact. Here is a summary of points made:”

[Cat’s note: bold emphasis is mine; I’ve re-ordered some items in the list to put related items together.]:

  1. “Currently there are a total of 84 companies involved in the oil industry in western ND.
  2. It takes between 2000 and 2200 semi loads of water per well. Currently there are 258 wells in progress with so many scheduled it is hard to determine the exact amount.
  3. Traffic accidents, especially fatal traffic accidents are of very high concern. At one location on Highway 85 south of Williston, a traffic count was conducted in October of 2011. In one 24 hour period of time there where 29,000 vehicle through the intersection looked at with 60% of the traffic being semi�s.
  4. Traffic is typically backed up for 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile. One of the guys stated that one day last week he sat at an intersection on Highway 85 for about 30 minutes to get a big enough opening to cross over.
  5. They have closed the weigh scale house because it was causing such a traffic jamb that it was closing the roadway.
  6. Rent in Williston currently is: $ 2000 for a one bedroom to $ 3400 for a three bedroom.
  7. They have no more hook ups for campers any where in the area.
  8. High rent: Williams County allows three campers per farmstead, the farmers almost all have three campers on their property and are charging $ 800 per camper per month for rent.
  9. The local Motel 6 in Williston now rents rooms from $ 129.95 per night.
  10. Wal Mart in Williston no longer stocks shelves, they bring out pallets of merchandise at night, and set it in the isles, people then take off the pallets what they want.
  11. On 1-1-12, the Williston Wal Mart had 148 campers overnight in their parking lot.
  12. Minot population has grown by a projected 9000 people since the completion of the census. Minot is expecting to reach a population of 75,000 in the next five years.
  13. Willams County wrecked a pickup and ended up bringing it to Bismarck for repairs because there no available body shops to do the work. Williams County has purchased a trailer and has started to bring vehicles to the Bismarck area for repairs. Willaims County took a pickup in for ball joints and front brakes, the shop charged them $ 2800 for the repairs.
  14. Williston and Williams County now produces more taxable sales than any other area in ND.
  15. The Williams County jail has increased booking by 150%. With a 100% increase in inmate population. Bonds of $ 5k to $ 10 K are typically paid with cash out of pocket. The Williams County Sheriff stated that a couple of week ago he received a $ 63,000 bond in cash carried into the jail in a plastic Wal Mart bag.
  16. Williams County Sheriff’s Department has more than doubled in staff over the last two years, they are now buying trailer houses that come up for sale to rent to newly hired deputies.
  17. Williams County new starting salary with the academy is $ 46,000 plus 100% of all benefits paid.
  18. They are in a continuous hiring cycle, they have no set budget at this time, the Sheriff has been told to manage his office to the best of his abilities and keep the Commission updated, but do not worry about the budget.
  19. The Williston McDonalds just announced that they will pay $ 15 an hour, a $ 500 immediate sign on bonus and a single medical plan paid for.
  20. The restaurants are full and with limited staff to work in them they usually just have the drive through open. The restaurants that have inside seating are now an hour wait at all times.
  21. Law Enforcement in the Williams County area cannot provide training to staff due to time constraints and no location to hold training.
  22. Law Enforcement no longer does any proactive work (school programs, community services, house checks) they do very little traffic related issues as well, they just to from call to call. Bars fights are one of the biggest issues.
  23. Other law enforcement issues include the strip clubs. The local clubs have now started what is called “babe buses”. These buses go out to areas and pick up people and bus them back and forth to the strip clubs, the buses have poles on them as well as live entertainment.
  24. Drug problems are immense, and they are seeing narcotics that they have never seen in the area before, like black tar heroin.
  25. The civil process section of the Sheriff’s Department used to average 1800 paper a year, they are now doing 4500 processes a year.
  26. Law Enforcement said that they make as many Driving under the Influence [DUI] arrest at 10 Am as they do at midnight.
  27. Illegal aliens have become a huge problem, especially getting the proper authorities do remove them from the Country.
  28. The current thought from the oil companies is that the area will continue to grow as it has over the past two years for the next five years and stay for ten years. At the end of the ten years they feel the communities will drop in population somewhat.
  29. The current thought is that the oil companies will be drilling wells on every 1280 acres of leased land, this way they have tied up the land and do not have to release the property.
  30. The Williston General Motors dealership has now become the number 1 seller of Corvettes in the upper Midwest.
  31. The bigger oil companies are doing very well in hiring good people. They run checks and make sure the people they hire are drug free; it is the smaller companies that are having trouble-hiring people that will look the other way on hiring issues.
  32. They said they do not know anybody anymore. The Sheriff of Williams County he use to be able to go to Wal Mart and not be walk very far without knowing somebody, now he does not know any of the people in there.
  33. Many of the local citizens are taking retirement and moving out of the area.
  34. They have an extreme amount of alcohol abuse going on. They have more calls than ever of drunk people trying to get into houses, to find out they are at the wrong place.
  35. Trinity Hospital in Minot has just hired 115 nurses from the Philippians to work at the hospital, as they cannot get enough local nurses to apply.”


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