In Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale, hydraulic fracturing is used to access natural gas. In North Dakota’s Bakken, they’re fracking for oil.
North Dakota’s fracking boom is increasing domestic oil production – it’s now responsible for one in ten domestic barrels produced. Soon, some of that oil will be processed at Sunoco’s Philadelphia refinery.
But as the Washington Post reports, the state’s fracking boom comes with some of the same complicating factors that rural Pennsylvania communities have experienced:
But the oil rush has also brought soaring home prices, makeshift camps for workers, overbooked hotels and an explosion of heavy truck traffic and crime. Towns are gritty and cheerless. Stacks of pipe lie along the roads, waiting to be buried.
Consider a few recent news items:
The number of oversize and overweight trucks using roads and bridges in the Oil Patch more than doubled over the past three years; the state issued 236,530 such permits in 2011. McKenzie County, with about 7,000 residents, needed nearly $200 million to repair roads damaged by the truck traffic. It is one of four North Dakota counties that rank among the nation’s 10 fastest-growing counties, according to a May 15 Wells Fargo Securities economic report.
Williston public schools are trying to figure out how to cope with 1,200 additional students expected next year. The Bakken Breakout Weekly, which the Bismarck Tribune launched in print and online last year to keep up with and get ads from the boom, reported that the 43 day-care centers in Williams County stopped taking names for waiting lists and in some cases stopped answering phones.