Press "Enter" to skip to content

South Dakota Under-Explored for Oil, Says Industry, But Fracking Won’t Float All Boats

Last updated on 2014.07.24

South Dakota is "under-explored" for oil, says Sturgis consultant and former cop Adam Martin, the new exec of the South Dakota Oil and Gas Association.

"Under-explored" appears frequently in press dealing with South Dakota and oil exploration. State officials are doing a lot of petro-wishing, but geology and economics are still working against them. Heck, we can't even find the right sand to use in the fracking process—except for maybe one isolated patch of the Black Hills near Hill City where South Dakota Proppants thinks it can mine a million tons of frac-sand a year... and turn the central Black Hills into a dusty freeway for trucks thundering out to Wyoming and the Bakken. Yay.

Plenty of folks have made money punching holes in the Black Hills. If we punch more holes across the state and find oil, more folks will make money. But not all of them. Texas is far from under-explored, but the growing petro-wealth still doesn't flow smoothly to the greater good:

...[D]espite the boom, Texas has some of the highest rates of poverty in the nation and ranks first in the percentage of residents without health insurance. Republican leaders have supported tapping the Rainy Day Fund for one-time investments in water and transportation infrastructure, but they have blocked attempts to use the fund for education and other services, arguing that it was designed to cover emergencies and not recurring expenses.

“Despite the bounty of the Eagle Ford, which is considerable and on the whole clearly positive, it is not a rising tide that lifts all boats,” said Ray Perryman, a leading Texas economist and author based in Waco. He noted that Texas had long had a philosophy of limited government and an aversion to spending on social services, an attitude intensified by the current political environment.

“Texas is not a good place to be poor, and there is little political appetite for change,” he said [Manny Fernandez and Clifford Krauss, "Boom Meets Bust in Texas; Atop Sea of Oil, Poverty Digs In," New York Times, 2014.06.29].

It may not hurt to go looking for the spare change dinosaurs may have left in the couch cushions in West River. Then again, it might. But don't let the South Dakota Oil and Gas Association or South Dakota's state government fool you: fracking what little oil we may have won't bring easy, widespread wealth to South Dakota.

p.s.: Hey! Anyone strike oil down in the Precambrian rock by Wasta yet?


  1. mike from iowa 2014.06.30

    won't float all boats,yeah,BUT,the water they will waste fracking would surely float most of those boats except South Dakota doesn't have enough water for people to drink,let alone pump the stuff into the ground and contaminate everything with it. All they see is near term profit and logistics are incidental.

  2. Tim 2014.06.30

    "All they see is near term profit and logistics are incidental."

    Mike, standard republican policy, let the next generation worry about having water to drink or a planet they can live on.

  3. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.06.30

    There is plenty of frack sand on the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers that form the MN/WI border. Ask the residents there how well they like it.

    It's a gigantic, muddy or dusty mess. Frequent sand spills back into the rivers silt/sand them up and require significant expenditures and time to clear. The sand companies treat very specific boundaries to their operations as mere suggestions.

    The economic pay off is poor enough and the infrastructure and environmental destruction bad enough that counties and towns have written and approved ordinances keeping frack sand mining out.

    As usual in Big Oil, it's the corporate officers who celebrate and the locals who suffer.

Comments are closed.