From Texas to North Dakota there has been a recent boom in the oil industry. For the past decade or so new technology has allowed oil companies to extract the oil from shale deep underground. This oil was never accessible until after the year 2000, and it is currently providing thousands of jobs. The problem is that it is creating some very serious side effects.
There are hundreds of scientific journals that claim fracking destroys the ground and contaminates ground water. There are also hundreds of scientific journals that claim there is nothing wrong with fracking and the few chemicals that are pumped into the ground are down so deep that there are no problems that arise. The jury is still out on the final consensus, and the problem is that when it is finally known whether or not fracking causes ground contamination, it will be too late.
Whenever you take a small agricultural area, and suddenly increase the population 10 or 20 fold, there is bound to be crime that follows. The majority of those working in the oil fields are younger men who work hard and play hard. This means when their shift ends, they will hit up night clubs, strip clubs, casinos and bars. The result is a lot of drug and alcohol abuse that leads to even more crime. Many of these areas that used to be small towns are having a hard time controlling the rowdy population.
No More Workers
The fracking industry brings in thousands of jobs for those who work in the oil fields. But if you lived in the area and could go work on a rig for $30 or $40 per hour, why would you ever choose to work at Taco Bell, a convenience store, or somewhere else in town for $12 or $15 per hour? Many of the local stores, restaurants, and shops are struggling to find employees because the workforce is being sent to the fields.
Skyrocketing Costs of Living
Since there is so much money being made, and so many people that have flooded the areas, people who own land, houses, apartments, or other buildings know they can make quite a bit of money by charging more for rent; and people will pay it. So an apartment that used to cost $700 per month now costs $2000 per month. And there are never any open rooms.
Traffic, Traffic, Traffic
In one area near Williston, ND, the traffic has increased tremendously. A stretch of highway that used to see about 1,400 vehicles per day is now seeing 14,000 vehicles per day. And a good portion of that traffic is fracking trucks; some estimates say as much as 60% of the traffic is truck traffic (highway engineers say 12% truck traffic is incredibly high). These trucks, often driven by young, inexperienced, and poorly trained individuals, are causing a rise in fracking truck accidents.
The fracking oil boom is having a great effect on the economy. It is bringing in a lot of money, and a lot of people are much better off because of the money they have earned. The spillover to towns and cities within hundreds of miles means that the entire area sees an economic boost. But with every boom comes problems. And areas of North Dakota, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Texas are seeing those problems first hand. With oil reserves in North Dakota expected to last another 30 or 40 years, there is little respite in the future.