Taxpayer-Funded Environmentalist Group Attacking Fracking In North Dakota


The Dakota Resource Council is at it again. The group, in partnership with its parent organization the Western Organization of Resouce Councils, released a report claiming that fracking operations are sucking the water out of western North Dakota.

“The regional network of organizations’ 37-page report, titled “Gone for Good,” warns of continued diminished water supplies in areas that have been hit hard by drought in recent years,” reports the Dickinson Press. “The report claims that nearly 87 billion to 174 billion gallons of water were used for fracking purposes in the U.S. last year.”

It’s hard to take serious a report that can’t even pin down a really accurate picture for water use – their estimate includes an 87 billion gallon spread – and it’s worth giving that number some perspective. As the North Dakota Petroleum Council points out later in the article, we’re using less water for fracking than we are to water golf courses around the country:

North Dakota Petroleum Council spokeswoman Tessa Sandstrom said Thursday that energy giant Halliburton is “at the forefront of developing technologies to reduce water consumption” and added that shale well consumption accounts for 0.3 percent of the total freshwater used in the U.S. in 2011. Sandstrom said that number is compared to 0.5 percent of all freshwater in the same year used by golf courses.

Maybe water use in fracking isn’t so scary after all, especially when most of the water for Bakken fracking operations is pulled from the Missouri River which, given recent flooding, has an overabundance of water lately.

But we should keep in mind that these activist groups are promoting their scare tactics with our tax dollars. According to the 2011 Form 990 from the Dakota Resource Council, the organization got 64% of its financing from government grants:

This didn’t just happen in 2011 either. I can’t find the 2010 form, but in 2009 the group got $298,950 (over 86% of their total) from the government, and in 2008 the group got $413,748 from the government which was 98% of their total revenue.

The parent group – the Western Organization of Research Councils – seems to be primarily supported through contributions from its member organizations like the Dakota Resource Council.

Environmental activism is all well and good. We citizens are all free to pursue whatever political agendas we wish, no matter how wrong-headed. But shouldn’t groups like the Dakota Resource Council get support from the private sector, not the taxpayers?