Yesterday this strange piece railing against fracking in something called Yes! Magazine came across my radar.
It’s a story, written by Yes! Editor-At-Large Sarah van Gelder, chronicling the process through which the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation banned fracking back in 2012.
Apparently van Gelder visited North Dakota, specifically the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, and has all sorts of things to say about how terrible oil development has been for the people there. Apparently the Three Affiliated Tribes at Fort Berthold should have banned fracking like the Turtle Mountain folks did.
Not mentioned is van Gelder’s article is the fact that the Turtle Mountain tribal leadership has been hitting the state up for more assistance dollars. Unemployment levels there are absurdly high.
Meanwhile, on the Fort Berthold reservation, at the peak of the oil boom the tribe (which has about 4,053 enrolled members living on the reservation) was raking in $40 million per month in direct oil tax revenues, and untold millions more in indirect impacts. One of Fort Berthold’s biggest problem hasn’t been unemployment, in recent years, but a labor shortage.
I guess the Turtle Mountain folks didn’t want oil jobs, but do want money from the state fueled by revenues from oil activity elsewhere.
But that’s not the most ironic part about van Gelder’s article. You see, the Turtle Mountain folks don’t have any oil.
The map below comes by way of the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources. The green blogs are the drilling rigs operating as of today. The reddish orange lines are the oil fields. The shaded areas are the reservations. Fort Berthold in the west, Standing Rock along the southern border, Spirit Lake in the east, and Turtle Mountain up by the Canadian border (I added the words and arrow).
As you can see, there is no oil under the Turtle Mountain Reservation. Which makes banning fracking, and banning all of the prosperity and opportunity which comes with it (and yes some of the headaches too), an easy proposition.