North Dakota Essay

Submitted By Mandy-Stenehjem
Words: 1562
Pages: 7

Oil Boom Negatively Affecting North Dakota
Long time residents of North Dakota get an eerie feeling when they look at their state now. The plain, barren state has become filled with strangers, and many negative changes that weren’t there during their childhood. Over the past few years, North Dakota has changed immensely, and not for the better. North Dakota struck rich once drillers found oil two miles beneath Earth’s surface. Now people are coming from all over the nation in hopes of striking it rich. These factors contribute to increased problems in the Bakken and all around. North Dakota isn’t the same safe and quiet place it used to be. The oil boom is causing North Dakota to become overpopulated- in turn crime rates and costs have increased; the process being used to extract the oil is harmful to the earth. The crime rate in North Dakota has shot up ever since the oil boom started. Spanning from murders, aggravated assaults, rapes, human trafficking, robberies, and the biggest concern, illegal drugs. With limited spending opportunities, or safe activities to participate in, many people have turned to using drugs in their free time. Crime has tripled in the last two years and 90 percent of it is drug related (Horwitz). Methamphetamine and heroin have made their way up to the Bakken, and law enforcement can barely keep up with the trouble. With the huge influx of predominately men to the area, prostitution and sex trafficking area growing problem. Due to the ten to one men to women ratio in the growing town of Williston, N.D., these crimes have become a major problem. In an interview with the Attorney General of North Dakota, Wayne Stenehjem stated that drug crimes have increased about 20 percent from 2012-2013. Stenehjem also mentioned that many of the same people trafficking drugs are involved in sex trafficking. Supported by the acting director of drug-control policy for the Obama administration, “the influx of highly paid oil field workers into an area with limited opportunities for spending their income has created a market for drugs and contributed to an overall increase in crime,” stated by Michael Botticelli (Kives). North Dakota is unable to keep up with the increasing crime due to the oil boom. With what seemed like the population doubling overnight many North Dakota towns were unprepared for any of the effects that the oil boom brought. Williston, N.D., is said to be the heart of the oil boom. Housing is in high demand, causing rent in Williston to be the highest in the nation. According to Shactman, rent for a one-bedroom apartment used to be $500 monthly, but renters have seen the expense rise to more than $2000 a month. The lack of availability housing and affordability has forced Williston to build temporary housing units called “man camps” for the Bakken oil workers. Many men have resorted to living and sleeping in their vehicle or any warm place they can find. This is a very dangerous considering the fact that North Dakota winter temperatures get down to an average of 40 degrees below zero at night (Kives). Overpopulation is causing elderly and long time residents to be worried and scared in their own town (Horwitz). These people are being forced out of their houses because they are unable to keep up with the rising and unregulated rent. Health facilities are unable to provide proper care due to the lack of space and the lack of employees in the system. It’s hard to hire someone in the medical field when they can get the same wage, if not better, in the oil field or even at a fast food restaurant. North Dakota can’t seem to catch up. Although the state is trying hard, the oil boom is always one step ahead. It’s estimated that the flow of oil will continue for two more decades; therefore so North Dakota needs to act fast before the growing population gets out of hand. Many worries are brought up about the environment and the effect the oil boom and the fracking method has on surrounding areas.