ND State Legislators Say Media’s Depiction Of Bakken Oil Boom Not Always An Accurate One
State Representatives Blair Thoreson and Craig Headland were a part of a group of Republican state legislators who visited North Dakota’s western oil fields. I interviewed both men about what they saw there. Here’s the audio:
During the interviewed I said that a lot of the media coverage of the oil boom, coming as it does from outside of the state or from North Dakota’s Fargo-centric media, reminds me of east-coast coverage of the old wild west. While historic figures like Wyatt Earp and Jesse James were living real lives, their deeds were being sensationalized by east coast writers turning them into figures of lore. The truth, though, often didn’t bear a lot of resemblance to the stories.
Both Thoreson and Headland generally agreed with this assessment.
“There is impact out there. There’s no doubt about it,” said Rep. Headland. “But what you’re seeing from some of the press only talks about the bad things. There are a lot of good things happening out there.”
“We see a lot of press, maybe just conjecture, going on that it’s just ‘bad, bad, bad’ but what you really hear from the elected officials and the people of western North Dakota is that this is really a hopeful thing,” added Rep. Thoreson, though both legislators were sure to mention that there are plenty of challenges and problems in the west that require policy solutions.
During the interview I asked if the legislators were worried about spending on oil impacts getting too carried away. Both said they were, with Rep. Headland noting that state funding formulas weren’t likely to change.
The legislators stayed in a “man camp” (or “crew camp” as the oil industry prefers) and were complimentary of how clean and efficient the operation was, though Rep. Thoreson said he understands that the camps create hardships in terms of infrastructure impact on the communities where they’re built.
But generally both men struck a very hopeful tone for oil development in the west. Far from being the social and environmental armageddon that’s depicted in the west, they noted that most local officials saw the oil boom as a “hopeful thing” (to use Thoreson’s words).
For my two cents, it seems that most of the people who think the oil boom is an overall negative development for western North Dakota don’t actually live in western North Dakota, or don’t remember that the status quo before the oil boom was dying communities and shrinking populations.Tags: bakken, bakken oil boom, blair thoreson, craig headland, North Dakota News, oil