Press "Enter" to skip to content

Bakken Conference Needs Session to Discuss Eviction of Local Residents

Around 150 people are expected to attend the Black Hills Bakken Conference here in Spearfish today and tomorrow. I'd be interested in attending as well to hear all the tarry-eyed oil-boom boosters tickle our fantasies of petro-wealth and asking if anyone is worried about the potential erosion of education and democracy.

However, I can't make it, because (a) I have to work, and (b) I wouldn't pay $500 to sit and chat with people. 150 people at $500 a head... that's $75,000. When I was treasurer of the South Dakota Speech Communication Association, we were able to run our annual convention for a similar number of attendees at fancy-schmancy places like Cedar Shores for under $4000. The Black Hills Bakken Conference has more guest speakers than we did, but I'm thinking somebody's making some money.

Also unlikely to be able to cover the $500 registration fee: North Dakota trailer park residents being evicted by developers to make way for oilpatch worker housing:

Forced evictions, of local residents from their mobile homes in the New Town area, to provide housing for predominately out-of-state oil workers has reached a new low. On Monday, April 16th, Four Native American residents of the Prairie Winds Mobile Home Park, including a 9-year old child, were forced to leave their home when landlord, Leroy Olsen, removed Heather Youngbird and Crystal Deegan's front door. Olsen then cut the electricity and turned off the propane to the home, and told them they had to leave their home immediately.

...Residents of 45 trailers have until August 31st to move after the mobile home park was sold with plans to develop it to house oil workers. Future Housing LLC bought the property and plans to construct housing for employees of United Prairie Cooperative, formerly Cenex of New Town.

John Reese, the CEO and general manager of United Prairie Cooperative and agent for Future Housing LLC, has said the company is trying to work with the residents. Initially, the eviction deadline was set for May 1, but it's been postponed until Aug. 31.

...Reese said in an interview last month the housing shortage in the area makes it difficult for him to find employees. Available land to develop housing is also difficult to find, he said [Kandi Mossett, "Front Door Stripped off Mobile Home As Forced Evictions Reach New Low in Bakken Oil Fields," press release, Indigenous Environmental Network, 2012.04.18].

I can live with movers and shakers keeping their networking sessions exclusive with high registration fees. But I hope Rep. Charlie Hoffman and his fellow interested parties will talk about the shaken movers who can't afford to live in their homes around the North Dakota oil patch any more. Does new wealth really justify telling an entire class of workers they can no longer live in a community? The displacement of local long-time residents is as much an externality of the oil business as pollution, and we need to discuss how the cold-eyed corporations drilling our earth compensate us for that social cost.


  1. bret clanton 2012.05.02

    The northern hills is just ripe for conmen and flimflam artists to peddle bogus investment schemes.

  2. Stan Gibilisco 2012.05.02

    Just paid my water bill a few minutes ago at Lead City Hall. The girl who took my money agreed with me: What with the propsect of oil drilling and gold mining coming to the region and the area, we oughta be happy. Beggars can't be choosers. And let's not forget about the Homestake Lab -- it ain't dead yet. Seems to me, things are looking up around here.

  3. larry kurtz 2012.05.02

    One real winter in the Bakken will weed the whiners from the winners.

  4. Douglas Wiken 2012.05.02

    Progress does not have to be a wrecking crew.

  5. Donald Pay 2012.05.02

    Sorry, Stan, but I see this quote from you as the problem with South Dakota's economic development strategies over the last four decades: "What with the propsect of oil drilling and gold mining coming to the region and the area, we oughta be happy. Beggars can’t be choosers."

    The idea that South Dakotans have to beg for the absolute worst development schemes and take whatever shitty deal is offered by out-of-state hustlers is self-defeating. What happened to taking your future into your own hands, rather than taking the crumbs from the resource extraction industries?

    You are the Saudi Arabia of wind, but you can't get over the hurdle of the established interests that are risk averse and that control development to keep out anything that threatens them. So, you're stuck with resource extraction schemes that leave environmental devastation.

    It's easy to just take what's served up by the hustlers, especially when your politicians are easy to buy. But why people keep doing this over and over again is insane. Your kind of thinking is why people, especially young people, get the hell out.

  6. larry kurtz 2012.05.02

    Note the news that Sanford is merging with a Bismarck based medico cabal: death dances to the bank.

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.05.02

    Stan, among my worries is that you, that nice girl at City Hall, and I will be priced out of living in the Hills. You stand to cash in by selling your property, and that's great if you plan to go elsewhere, but if rent climbs faster than teacher pay (as it is in North Dakota), I'll be forced to make a long commute or give up my Spearfish job and go elsewhere. So might folks who've made their living on tourism. Will the nice folks running family attraction want to trade their usual clientele of family vacationers for endless crowds of oilpatch roughnecks?

  8. Stan Gibilisco 2012.05.02


    It had occurred to me that I might be evolving into a fuddy-duddy. I was a bit high on endorphins and Diet Dew when I paid that water bill. She and I were in part joking. Nobody wants riff-raff, reckless development, and pollution to wreck their home turf. But we were downright serious when we saw ourselves as beggars. Lead has a profoundly defeatist mentality. If you think we had better get over it, I couldn't agree with you more.

    But yikes! "My way of thinking" driving people out? Have I decayed that far already?

    I sure don't want to help drive young people out of South Dakota. Our bleak weather and social provincialism do enough of that already. But then, I do believe that if a young person with raging enthusiasms and hormones sees the "sexier" vistas of Miami, Los Angeles, and other far-off places where people are supposedly all beautiful and happy, and if they want to get the bejesus out of here and go, I say, by all means do it, go and find out what a crock the whole thing is, what baloney these places are full of, and then, when you've had enough of walking around wondering whether you'll get nine grams to the noggin in the next nanosecond, come on back. This old fuddy-duddy will keep the lights on for ya.

    Glad to see somebody take me on, anyhow.


    Well, I suppose property taxes will go up even more than they already have in recent years -- unless somehow the broader tax base puts a lid on it.

    If anybody gets it into their head that they can commute from, say, Lead or Deadwood up to the northwestern corner of the state on a regular basis, a vicious winter, such as the 300-inch-snowfall-total one we had a couple or three years ago, will get rid of that delusion.

    I will admit that I have a certain freedom to "cash in" on this wave as it plays out. Yet I am also growing older by the day, more of a wuss, and less inclined to just move on a whim because I can make a few bucks.

    But, Donald and Cory, suppose I do cash in, and then go to some other location (in this state or not) and build that green home I've dreamt of for all these years? Could my fuddy-duddyism, my blind profiteering mentality, be at least in part forgiven then?

  9. Stan Gibilisco 2012.05.02

    Those who would accuse me of being a committed individualist might take comfort in my guilty plea, guilty as the winds doth blow and the sun doth shine, after this bit of "evidence" from a fellow Libertarian:

    That said, I'd love to reap a bit of a profit from an oil or mining boom on the part of unstoppable institutions, and then, using money derived from them, turn around as an individual and buy, and then build on, a place like this:

    Then I'd write a book about the whole deal, after figuring out a way to actually make such living economically feasible (and believe me, this old fuddy duddy would do it or die); I'd write the book and get it published and then, after a couple of million people had pirated it, I'd take the remaining royalties and go buy myself a Diet Dew.

  10. Michael Black 2012.05.03

    Cory, life is all about change. You need to finish that dissertation, get the doctorate and find a very well paying job.

    What the hold up on finishing?

  11. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.05.03

    Michael, I reject that change because the dissertation does not fulfill or inspire me or do much to make the world a better place. I am doing better things with my time. Life is all about change, but that does not mean that all change is good.

    Stan, if the oil boom shifts south, and if it empowers you to do good things, that's cool. I'd find a book on your adventures particularly enjoyable and instructive. But the folks discussed at the top aren't being empowered; they're being priced out of a place where they want to live.

  12. Michael Black 2012.05.03

    I'm very disappointed that you choose not to finish.

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.05.03

    That's fine. I'm not. Neither are the hundred-plus kids to whom I get to teach French this year... and next. And to be honest, I achieve more each week as I write about important issues like the Bakken oil fields than I did in any given week of secluded academic research and writing.

  14. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.05.03

    Sure, Michael... and I could also get this conversation back on the track that matters, and that's the greater issue of what the Bakken oil boom is doing to North Dakota's communities and what it could do to South Dakota's communities.

  15. Bill Fleming 2012.05.03

    Even better would be for the companies who are displacing poor people to take responsibility for finding (perhaps even providing?) them new quarters elsewhere. Unless, of course everybody decides to just keep playing the same old broken record.

  16. Stan Gibilisco 2012.05.03

    Talk about displacing people from trailers ... over the weekend, my property manager is going to serve eviction papers to some tenants who rent a trailer from me. I fully expect that next week, Lawrence County sheriff's deputies will have to extract them by force.

    No oil-field workers could be worse than these clowns. They drink, fight, and constantly land in jail. I wouldn't be surprised if they vandalize the place next week, and maybe even come around and bother me in my own house.

  17. Douglas Wiken 2012.05.03

    South Dakota needs to come up with something like resource planning districts to prevent the mess like that in North Dakota.

  18. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.05.03

    Indeed, Douglas, and that's kind of the message I took from the (free, open to the public) forum on the Bakken in Belle Fourche in February. Plan ahead, impose regulations now, and be ready to guide the growth, not let the economic boom act like cancer.

    Stan, I regret your bad-tenant situation. There's SOBs everywhere. Oil appears to be bringing a higher percentage of SOBs to North Dakota.

    Bill, the tipi-trailer home analogy deserves more attention.

  19. larry kurtz 2012.06.23

    Hoffman is being beaten up by his party at the earth hater's ball. If you're not following @argusmontgomery right now you're missing the blood bath.

  20. larry kurtz 2012.06.23

    #SDGOP12 what a bunch of losers.

  21. Paul 2012.07.12

    Bakken Residence Suites has the nicest accommodations in the Bakken region. We are expanding with 30 new deluxe 2 bedroom cabins. Taking reservations now. Ph 701-509-6331

Comments are closed.