I work often in Fargo. The first time I made this trip there was a huge billboard that simply said, BE NICE. I loved it. I loved it so much I got off at the next exit and came back again so I could get a picture. It is quintessential North Dakota. Anyone living here knows about these signs but is North Dakota too nice?
John Oliver put North Dakota front and center during a recent taping of his HBO show, “Last Week Tonight”.
Before you get offended, he makes a great point. North Dakota just may be too nice. He hits the nail on the head when he speaks about the endearing charm of small town America. Maybe take a few moments and watch the video. I would love your opinion.
“What the hell has just happened to North Dakota? For all the good that the oil industry has done to the state, it has not been without cost.”
He makes a point of saying that North Dakota over the years has gotten used to being ignored. Coming from someone who has lived there I rather think that people prefer it that way. They don’t want their secret out and who can blame them. There are so few places left in the country quite like this often cold northern state.
With activity slowing down in the region, we have seen the active drill rigs reduce down to 68 currently compared to the 190 this same time last year. That’s significant. Personally, I feel things will come back again but it will come back slowly. It’s a much needed breather for an area that has had to deal with huge surges of people and businesses and all of the issues that come along with them. The area has had a difficult time keeping up with the pace. Imagine the ebb and flow of the ocean. You just keep getting hit with wave after wave after wave and sometimes you can hardly catch your breath before another one hits.
There should be balance in life. In our personal lives and in our environment. Yes, the oil industry has brought prosperity, jobs and opportunity. One person’s prosperity though should not have a negative effect on someone else. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can have both, it takes personal responsibility for private citizens and businesses alike. According to some reports, the Bakken claims the life of someone every six weeks (on average). In the video John Oliver makes the claim that there are only 8 compliance officers for OSHA inspecting sites for both South and North Dakota. A number that does not even begin to meet the actual demand.
He specifically speaks about the death of Brendan Wegner and the accident that claimed his life along with Ray Hardy. Several others were also injured (one of whom later committed suicide). The well where the accident occurred was owned by Oasis Petroleum but because of how it was structured, none of the men working on this well actually were considered employed by Oasis so they were not found at fault. I’ll let you read about that accident and decide for yourself.
Do you live in North Dakota? What do you think about the penalties that companies are given when something happens?
My only real complaint about the video? His pronunciation of Bakken.