What does future hold?

Taylor Brorby, Minneapolis

The Minneapolis Star Tribune recently ran an article about a hot topic in my home state: the oil boom occurring in North Dakota. Known for its relatively low population, Enchanted Highway, and agricultural way of life, North Dakota, particularly the northwest corner of the state, is now experiencing unprecedented growth.

Recently, after traveling by train both to and from Washington State, I was able to witness what was formerly a sleepy region and what it has now become: a rather large, chauvinistic example of America’s addiction to oil. I say chauvinistic because, it seems, North Dakota has posited itself as the nation’s economic savior, when, in all actuality, it fuels the reduction of glaciers, raises the sea level, and allows us to get our oil fix, all from fracking.

The landscape of the Bakken oil fields was once serene wide, with expansive fields of wheat, it now is filled with heavy machines, man camps (an abhorrent phrase) and oil flares. North Dakota is literally feeling the squeeze as shale oil is extracted with both sand and water, doing God knows what to the long-term vitality of the environment.

North Dakota has another history, though, too; it has a history of fierce commitment to the land. Numerous state parks, along with Theodore Roosevelt National Park, sweep the landscape, farmers systematically cultivate and harvest crops to help fuel our bodies, and Native Americans, who arrived long before the white settlers asked, “What will our actions do seven generations from now?”

I now am worried about how this boom is being portrayed, and I know that it will eventually end in a bust the wells will run dry, people will move out of the state, and the land will forever be changed. In my imagination, seven generations from now, it is not a stretch to see a person asking the question, “Our ancestors were fracking nuts.”