The most important thing that I know about North Dakota is that it is undergoing a remarkable economic boom as a result of developments in technology in the oil industry that have allowed exploitation of oil and gas in Bakken Formation.
The Bakken Formation was discovered in the early 1950s. The coming of OPEC and its oil embargo caused a boom in oil exploration and drilling in North Dakota, but it disintegrated rapidly after oil prices eased. The latest boom began in 2006 when an oil company reported a well in the formation producing much more oil than expected.
Since then, the formation has been the subject of much more scrutiny. Estimates of the amount of oil in the formation still vary widely but have been increasing. Suffice to say they begin at huge and go up to enormous with at least one observer saying the discovery could be the largest oil field discovered in the last 30-40 years. The New York Times Magazine had an excellent story about How North Dakota Went Boom earlier this year.
Development of these resources has put an enormous strain on resources. A single new well requires 2,000 truck trips to supply the well the materials used in the hydraulic fracturing process (also called “fracking” — e.g., water, sand and unknown chemicals) that gets the oil flowing.
The boom has provided employment to many workers, principally men. As a result of an acute shortage of housing, let alone affordable housing, “man camps” have sprouted up in many places. These many be formal barracks-type buildings.
or extremely informal collections of campers where a landowner or company provides water and a privy.
Some “lucky” occupants of man camps live right next to the highway,
while others get up and they are already at work.
And while huge amounts of money have been made by many, as I have previously discussed there are many people who have been harmed by the boom.