Saturday, October 25, 2014

Dispatch from the Bakken Shale

I'm sitting in a Perkins Restaurant on the edge of the Bakken Shale someplace west of Bismarck, North Dakota. There are "Hiring Now" signs everywhere. The Interstate Freeway billboards advertise things like "safe ignition flare" devices for oil derricks. Yesterday, I drove across Minnesota and most of North Dakota; making a trip to my boyhood home to bring back a couple items from my Father's home which is on the market. It is being sold to help defray the cost of the memory unit where he resides.

I'm driving home with my inheritance: A lazy boy love seat, an antique saw, a rocking chair (for my old age) and a table chair.

I slept last night in a Rest Stop squished kitty korner fashion amongst the loot in this rusty van I'm driving.

The radio ads across Minnesota were mostly attacks on Mark Dayton trying to explain why Minnesota is doing so well, despite raising taxes and investing in public education. Dayton is gonna win this thing in a breeze---having salvaged his career after getting a reputation for being a flake while he served in the US Senate. Over across the Mississippi, Scott Walker struggles to win re-election despite a separate strategy of austerity and tax cuts. If Scott Walker survives, we are certain to see his brand exported to the national level. Keep your fingers crossed that he will lose.

Minnesota and Wisconsin are case studies in what works and what doesn't work.

Here in North Dakota the residents are trying to salve their collective guilt with a ballot initiative that would take 5% of the profits from the oil money from the Bakken Shale and invest that into wildlife habitat. I wish they would put the money into ReWilding the place. These prairie hills need bison. About a million of them. That would make the drive across North Dakota much more interesting; I'd like to wait for about thirty minutes for a hundred thousand bison to cross the road.

There is no protest against fracking here. The place is awash in money. North Dakota has no income tax and they have no clue what to do with all the money they are taking in. There are some wind turbines visible. That'd be one place to invest it. North Dakota had a choice as to what to invest in, Green Energy or Increased Global Temperatures. They chose to have a warmer climate.

While in Fargo, I saw hundreds of new rail tank cars rushing by, all filled with the liquid gold. My brother tells me that the oil companies say there is at least 35 years of oil to be pumped out of the ground on this wind swept prairie. This oil boom is going to last, the locals say. Of course, no one wants to live here and someday it will return to the bison as they march past the collapsing boom towns of manufactured housing. That is, if the grass and the bison can handle increased temperatures.

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