Fracking for Oil In North Dakota – How It Works: Obama Locking Away Oil Gas Resources Forever

In February I posted on oil fracking (fracturing) in North Dakota and the “boom town” atmosphere happening there. “Fracking” is a method of drilling “down” and then curving the pipe and drilling “over.” A procedure of small explosions occurs in the pipe that has traveled horizontally. Those explosions blow through the top and bottom of the pipe and “fractures” the shale in a “veiny” manner, which releases the oil or natural gas to flow back into the pipe and eventually be brought to the surface.

Bakken Shale Drilling Fields

Liberals hate it. A couple of New York towns have banned it. North Dakota is booming and in February the state had the lowest unemployment rate in the U.S. (3.8%). If you need a job, try the oil and gas fields in North Dakota.

The point of this post is to direct you to an excellent video that explains exactly how fracking works. View it at The second point is to mention that the Obama administration is doing everything it can to claim millions of acres of oil and gas rich land resources for “Wild Lands,” rendering them energy-useless.

The New American published an exposé on Czarist regulations that rained-down upon us on the Tuesday before Christmas 2010, which they refer to as Tyranny Tuesday. The author Michael Coffman address the millions of acres of land the administration (and others before it) have taken possession of under the “Wild Lands” provision of the Department of the Interior. Under the heading Czar Salazar Locks Up Trillions of Barrels of Domestic Oil and Gas, Coffman says:

As I discuss in my book Rescuing a Broken America,9 there exists enough oil and gas in shale oil formations in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming to completely supply all U.S. needs for several hundred years with current technology and oil prices. The BLM [Bureau of Land Management] estimates that “1.2-1.8 trillion barrels of oil is available in Wyoming’s Green River Formation alone. A moderate estimate of 800 billion barrels of oil that would be recoverable from oil shale in the Green River Formation is three times greater than the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia.”10 That is about a 100-year supply of oil at present U.S. consumption rates — just from Wyoming.

In spite of the fact that analysts unanimously celebrate this potential bonanza to America using environmentally-sensitive technology, progressives in Congress have systematically stalled on allowing its development. The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 forever locked up much of this shale oil from being developed. The Heritage Foundation found that “331 million barrels of recoverable oil and 8.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas were taken out of exploration in Wyoming. The total amount of energy that would be restricted is equivalent to the amount of natural gas the entire U.S. produces in 15 years…. The law could not only restrict conventional energy resources, but it could also restrict access to oil shale in parts of Colorado and Utah as well.”11 The “Wild Lands” decree by Salazar could lock up even more, if not all, of this priceless resource.

And that does not include the Bakken or Three Forks/Sanish which is believed to lie just above the Bakken. A couple of good articles on the Bakken that are understandable can be found at The Oil Drum and Oil Shale Gas. My previous article on the effect of the new industry in North Dakota is here.

John Carey, a North Dakota resident, has a very informative post at his blog, Sentinel Journal. Note a study with the EPA giving an all clear on all levels for fracking in 2004 UNTIL Obama’s Democrat Congress launched another study in 2010. You know what that means. John says a North Dakota Congressman has introduced legislation to force the EPA to do nothing in the state on fracking without North Dakota’s permission.

These are serious issues and we have to find a way to treat the EPA like the vampires they are. Utah is making the effort.

Karen at The Lonely Conservative linked and has some news about the 2012 elections and how it might affect America’s energy policy.

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  • Thanks for linking back, Maggie. And thanks for posting this info. We need to keep it up – keep letting people know how this administration is killing domestic energy production – and all the jobs that go along with it!

    • Scott

      I dont like Obama but i am with him on this one..The article basically says Fu#@ the enviroment and the earth..Just get it however? Read this and this

      • Joanna Clark

        Our country is in deep trouble as anthropogenic-driven climate change leads us toward the “perfect storm.” A perfect storm that has been brought on by accelerating climate change, making it virtually impossible for most people to grasp the dynamics of exponential growth in a finite environment. Oil, natural gas, and nuclear fuel exist in finite amounts, and we are shrinking the earth’s forests, eroding its soils, depleting its aquifers, collapsing its fisheries, elevating its temperature, and melting its ice sheets. . . .

        “The death of our civilization is no longer theory or an academic possibility; it is the road we’re on.” – Peter Goldmark (2010). Fracking produces CO2 and methane population and it contaminates vast amounts of water. How long can we live without gas or oil, in comparison to water.

    • Joanna

      Lonely Conservative, what Maggie overlooks is that shale gas and oil are finite. Oil production in the US increased gradually from its discovery in the 1860 to about 10 million barrels a day in the 70s. It then began to decline to about 5 million barrels a day in 2009.

      It is a myth that productive fields are being kept from oil producers by needless environmental regulations. Oil and gas wells have been sunk in our National Parks and Seashores. We have only stopped drilling in ANWR. It is estimated that it would take 10 years to produce productive wells in ANWR, but there is less than one-month of oil in ANWR, based on global consumption.

      I agree that we have a vast resource in shale gas, but recovering that gas is extremely costly and unsustainable. In the short-term it will produce jobs, there is no doubt about that. But consider the question that I have repeatedly asked here – “How long can you live without gas or oil? In comparison how long can you live without clean drinking water?”

      We cannot base our decisions on short-term benefits to society. We have to look at the long-term effects of our decisions.

      Here are some books I urge you, and everyone to read.

      Life Without Oil: Why We Must Shift to a New Energy Future, by Steve Hallett and John Wright.

      Peak Oil and the Second Great Depression (2010-2030), by Kenneth Worth

      Not One Drop: Betrayal and Courage in the Wake of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, by Riki Ott

      Fire on the Horizon: The Untold Story of the Gulf Oil Disaster, by
      Tom Shroder and John Konrad

      World on the Edge, by Lester Brown

      Google references in the books and check the accuracy of the author’s intepretation.

      The bottom line is that we cannot continue “business as usual.” We must change course and begin working towards a new future. We have the ability, we only lack the political will.

      We should be building wind farms, putting solar arrays on the roofs of our homes and buildings in our sun belt, developing geothermal where applicable… all of these would provide jobs and stimulate our economy. We should be developing high-speed mass-transit, deploying hydrogen pumps at our current gas stations and urge Detroit to start mass producing FCV vehicles powered by hydrogen.

  • We in the frozen tundra of ND are rockin the bakken! That entire part of the state is good for drilling for oil and gas and shooting deer, not much else. Look for Barry and the boys to do everything in their power to shut down ND’s best resource…

    • Randy, you are in Utah also. My, my – both you and John. The good thing is, these areas are always better in the barren areas. Here in Oklahoma, we sometimes have oil wells in front yards! Not so much anymore, but they can show up in inconvenient places.

  • The EPA has already smelled the prosperity in ND and are looking to stop Fracking. All eyes They simply cannot have our nation producing our own oil. All eyes are looking to the north and you’re correct when you say there is a boom town atmosphere here in my state. I posted an article on this issue back in February Maggie. If you get a chance take a look. Great post.

    • John that’s a great article. In 2004 the EPA says all is good. Come Obama and 2010 and another study! We know where that’s going. I’m hearing from the Loons that fracking causes earthquakes and volcanos. Do you have any volcanos in Utah?

      These people are evil. I linked it inside mine.

      • Thanks for the link Maggie. It is very much appreciated. Actually I’m a North Dakota resident.

        • Sheeeeesh John. So sorry. I knew that. Don’t know what I was thinking. I fixed it. Apologies!

      • Joanna Clark

        In 2004, you had Bush in office, and he had high-school drop outs rewriting scientific studies to ensure they did not undermine his policies. In 2005, at the direction of Cheney, Fracking was excluded from the Clean and Safe Drinking Water Acts.

        • Joanna and Steve, too. I appreciate your civilized tone and the way you are discussing this important issue. I have to tell you, that I didn’t like any of Bush’s conservation postions. He grabbed our land and our water right and left, just as Obama is doing. I didn’t trust Bush on climate change or any part of the environment. The only thing I thank him for is that he did not sign on to the Kyoto treaty or the U.N.’s dangerous and ridiculous power-grabbing programs. Nevertheless, Agenda 21 advanced.

          I do not believe the earth is warming. It has warmed, as it has done for as long as we’ve kept records. Then it cools. Even Phil Jones (Climate-Gate Chief) had to admit there has been no warming since 1994. We’ve been lied to over and over. It’s all about money.

          As to exploration, fracking and drilling, when someone has a good way to provide an alternative, I’ll be interested. Electric cars, solar, wind power – none of it comes close. I’ll just say again, I’ve written a lot about climate change (once upon a time global warming) and I’m sick of disinformation and lies to line the pockets of those at the top of the trend.

          I value clean air and water as much as anyone, but I am not convinced that we have a single plan to replace oil, gas and coal that is workable.

          About the Clean Water Act, if that is the same as the “Clean and Safe Drinking Water Acts, most of it is politics and power. They want your water and they shall have it. That’s what it’s about, in my opinion.

          The States who are allowing fracking, with their documentation that fossil fuels are not leaking into water systems, should have the right to do so. But activists just can’t stand it!

          • Joanna

            Maggie, if you look at the temperature cycle over the past 400,000 years or so you will see a “normal” warming/cooling cycle that averages about 10,000 years or so. With the advent of the industrial age, however, that cycle is swinging upwards. The planet has warmed a little over one-degree Celsius since the beginning of the industrial age.

            Unfortunately, the news media is far from a accurate and/or reliable resource when it comes to learning about climate change. Have you taken the time to read any of the scientific reports, such as the five reports released this past year by the National Academies of Science, or the IPCC reports?

            Carbon Dioxide, which is a major GHG, levels in the atmosphere has exceeded 350 ppm. It measured 390 ppm at the summit of Mauna Kea this past winter.

            There was an article in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science this past year on wind as a source of power. It appears that properly deployed wind turbines could generator twice the amount of power currently being consumed by humanity. As Steve pointed out, Denmark is already capitalizing on wind power.

            I’m not a climate scientist, but I read all of the scientific reports, as well as the latest books on climate science, and I sign up for the various programs being offered, such as the recent glacier and climate change cruise offered by the Skeptic Society.

            We will run out of oil in the next two-to-three decades in all probability. More important, is that we are running out of water. Saudi Arabia has emptied their fossil aquifier, and our Ogallala aquifer is nearing empty. Fossil aquifers are not replenished by rain. Russia, China, are nearing empty with their fossil aquifers, which means that none of us will have the water necessary to maintain our crops. In 2010, Russia’s grain harvest dropped from 100 million tons to 60 million tons. We cannot continue “business as usual.” It takes nine gallons of water to produce a single gallon of corn-Ethanol. It takes on average 165 gallons of water to produce 55 gallons of tar-sand oil. And fracking utilizes literally millions of gallons of water. How long can a human being last without oil or gas? How long can a human being last without clean drinking water? You realize that population impacts the environment, and we will surpass 7 billion this coming October. It has been calculated that we will need about 1.5 earths to sustain our steadily increasing population. We need to get away from fossil fuels and onto sustainable renewable energy. Every President since Nixon has said this, but no one listens.

            • Linda

              Joanna, it would be helpful if you could provide citations, as well. The wind generation article you mentioned is cited as:
              W Kempton, et al., “Electric power from offshore wind via synoptic-scale interconnection,” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Apr 20;107(16):7240-5.

              “The world’s wind resource for electric power is larger than the total energy need of humanity. For surface winds over land
              globally, Archer and Jacobson (Archer CL, Jacobson MZ (2005) Evaluation of global wind power. J Geophys Res 110:D12110) estimate the wind resource at 72 terawatt (TW), nearly five times the 13 TW world’s demand for all energy. In a more detailed regional estimate, Kempton et al.(Kempton W, Archer CL, Garvine RW, Dhanju A, Jacobson MZ (2007) Large CO2
              reductions via offshore wind power matched to inherent storage in energy end-uses.
              Geophys Res Lett 34:L02817) calculated that two-thirds of the offshore wind power off the U.S. Northeast is sufficient to provide all electricity, all light-vehicle transportation fuel, and all building heat for the adjacent
              states from Massachusetts to North Carolina.”

          • Linda

            Maggie, what is the source of your allegation “Even Phil Jones (Climate-Gate Chief) had to admit there has been no warming since 1994. We’ve been lied to over and over.”

            I’ve been searching through Jone’s published papers and various news articles since the University’s e-mail server was hacked, and I have not found anything close to what you allege.

            Jones admitted that the loss of data in the 1990 paper that he co-authored was “unacceptable”. He went on to say, however, that reevaluating the data was worthy of consideration although he did not feel it would change the overall conclusion that anthropogenic activity was driving climate change.

            If you can provide a specific document to support your allegation, I would like to see it.

            • Linda and Joanna, I’d like to respond to both of you here. You’ll note that all the articles linked below are my own, but in each you will find links to documenting material. This is the fastest way I know to support my position. Much of this is found under the tab under my banner in “Popular Posts.”

              The Phil Jones “no warming since 1995” quote and links are here:


              Keep in mind that these Global Warming bullies have placed land-based monitors all over the world and put them next air conditioners, runways where jets are taking off – really it’s scandalous. Phil Jones admitted that warming has been calculated from “urban influences.” Read that here:


              Yes, Jones’ email server was hacked and all those exchanges with Michael Mann and others got into the public domain. Jones can say “reevaluation” will not change the overall conclusion, but it is Jones who has no data to support that claim. They tried to “hide the decline.” That’s their words, and that is exactly what they were doing.

              As to the IPCC Joanna, I have read close to everything they have published. The head of the IPCC, Rajendra K. Pachauri, is a fraud. First, he is not a scientist, next he owns a business that directly benefits from the climate change agenda and he stands to bring in millions, third, the panel has made predictions that were patently false, never happened, will not happen and were constructed from faulty data. Here documentation that:

              Sea level rise? No. It was a mistake:


              Polar Bears vanishing? No.




              IPCC’s claim that 55% of Netherlands below sea level? No


              IPCC uses student dissertation? Yeah, they did!


              Remember the esteemed James Hansen, NASA Goddard, got caught and had to change his data?


              Even the Liberal ABC questions climate science


              About alternative power, including wind:

              Nothing against wind, but there is no way it can come close to providing what we need, and it will NEVER be able to provide what we need. Where and when it works is fine with me, but it is a mistake to think wind farms are a solution. This article goes over most, if not all, of the alternatives.


              Another good article I can direct you to is this:


              You will have to get out of the U.N.’s own research, and the East Anglican research to find the truth, but find it you will, because it is everywhere, from excellent sources.

              Thanks again for the good conversation. I appreciate it.

              • Linda

                Maggie,no rise in sea-level. Have you ever been to Micronesia? Many of the islands there are in the midst of being evacuated because of rise in sea-level. You might check out the effects of sea-level rise on the Maldives and Tuvalu. Perhaps you can explain to them that sea-level rise is a figment of their imagination based on the lies they have been told.

              • joanna

                Good point Linda. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see the effects of rising sea-level.

            • Joanna

              What I see Maggie is your interpretations. In the one direct quotation from the BBC, that you show, he did not say what you imply.

              My reference, which Linda provided the citation to, is a peer-reviewed journal article.

              The IPCC, which is underfunded, is comprised of more than 2,500 volunteer scientists from 130 countries. They are not getting paid for their assessments, they only have one interest, saving the future for their, and our, grandchildren.

              There are many scientists that will dispute the findings of the IPCC, but you have to wonder what is going on with them when you dig down and find out they are on the payroll of one or more of the gas and/or oil companies.

              • When Jones says is that for 15 years there has been no “statstically significant” warming. That’s pretty clear, and it is not my interpretation. Did you read how the data was manipulated by their monitors?

                The thing is, there is no room for discussion of the IPCC being underfunded. They receive millions. Let’s talk about the fraudulent things they have done.

                I have not been to Micronesia. There are phenomena like losing your islands and other catastrophes, but there is no evidence that any of it is man-made, and it certainly is not happening all over the world.

                It’s clear that we disagree. Your “interpretation” does not fit the words “statistically significant.” After Climate-Gate, Jones learned to make no definitive remarks, because he was wrong about all he said before. So now he says nothing.

                I urge you to look at how land-based monitors were manipulated. And look into the grants these people receive.

                • Steve

                  Maggie, can you please be more specific? Please give a reference citation to Jones re: for 15 years there has been no “statstically significant” warming. It is my understanding that Jones’ computer was hacked, that internal communications he had with research colleagues were taken out of context and pasted into scandal mongering smears, that his peer-reviewed conclusions do in fact demonstrate not only the reality of global climate change but that it is due to human activities that have caused the planetary temperature to rise, and that this temperature rise is due to increasing and protracted use of fossil fuels, the combustion byproducts of which have raised the carbon content of the atmosphere.

                  As I understand the facts, a safe upper limit of carbon concentration in the atmosphere is 350 parts per million (PPM) and that at present the carbon concentration exceeds 385PPM. Which means we have already crossed the threshold where incremental, progressive, and degenerative changes are happen to the earth’s biosphere. Unless steps to reverse this trend are taken forthwith the day will come, and sooner than formerly thought, when the environment will not support life in the numbers of species and numbers within species that we have always know. Put differently, if we humans continue doing as we are, almost before we realize it (except for those paying attention) the era of mammals and primates will fade. What species will next predominate? Insects? Cockroaches and fungi? Will bacteria one day once again be at the top of the food chain?

                  This does not have to happen. We can take a new, better course. Look at it this way: there are four possible routes. One, global warming is not happening, and we do nothing about it. Two global warming is happening, and we do nothing about it. Three, global warming is happening, and we tale necessary steps to ameliorate the situation. Four, global warming is not happening, and we take steps to improve our ways of being and of using the planet’s resources (the same steps that would ameliorate a dire circumstance). Four choices. The first is benign. The second is willful and tragic. The third is smart, and the fourth is likewise also smart.

                  In reality there is just one choice, and that is to start today to take better care of our only home, mother earth. Remember, the earth is not ours, not yours or mine. The earth belongs to those who will come after us. If we so exploit the earth that it can no longer support life, then what will we really have accomplished, except to further enrich the already wealthy moguls who live only for their next quarterly profits?

                  fyi, I am not a climate scientist, but I am a scientist, specifically in the area of human behavior, thought, cognition, emotion, and motivation.

          • Joanna

            Well said, Steve.

            The archeological record indicates that civilizational collapse does not come suddenly out of the blue. Economic and social collapse is almost always preceded by a period of environmental decline. “As environmental degradation and economic and social stresses mount, the more fragile governments have difficulty managing them.” And as rapid population growth continues, “crop land becomes scarce, wells go dry, forests disappear, soils erode, unemployment rises, and hunger spreads.”
            Brown, “World on the Edge” (2010).

            Environmental trends are the lead indicators telling us what lies ahead for the economy and ultimately society itself. Falling water tables today signal rising food prices tomorrow. Shrinking polar ice sheets signal falling coastal real estate values tomorrow. Despite our technology and advanced urbanization, we are just as dependent on the Earth’s support systems as the Summeroams and/or the Mayans.

      • Linda

        “Liberals hate it. A couple of New York towns have banned it. North Dakota is booming and in February the state had the lowest unemployment rate in the U.S. (3.8%). If you need a job, try the oil and gas fields in North Dakota.”

        Maggie, there is good reason why both liberals and conservatives (if they live in the area where fracking has been ongoing.

        From the New York Times and the Christian Science Monitor

        and Propublica –

        Humanity survived more than two-million years without oil and gas. How long do you think we would have survived without clean, safe, water?

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  • Rose

    As a prior resident of the good old ND, who also worked in the oil industry, the only reason ND oil has become available is new fracking techniques (which are suspiciously under-regulated on Indian Reservations in ND), and the high price that a barrel will now bring in. Once the oil again becomes unprofitable to extract (as with fracking it becomes more and more costly to recover oil the further out the veins are) the new oil economy will move it’s wagon on to someone else. Short term jobs and money? yes. Lots of money for a few? Yes. A real long term solution for jobs for kids in the state who wont grow up to be farmers? I wouldn’t count on it.

    • Rose, good comment from one familiar with ND. Right now, there are a lot of people who will travel to take a job (of course, many more that will not). From John Carey’s article, the EPA completely cleared the process in 2004, but now Obama’s Dem Congress launched another study. They will stop it, but the oil and gas industries have to get some spine. They can, and they need to refuse to appear before Congress until they are treated respectfully.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I really appreciate it.

      • Joanna Clark

        Maggie, you overlook the fact that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were running the show in 2004. They appointed people to run the EPA, who were not only unqualified, but they did whatever they were told. Fracking was excluded from the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Acts by the Bush administration, so it is not difficult to understand why the EPA approved fracking in 2004.

        Natural gas is mostly methane, which is a much more potent greenhouse gas, especially in the short term, with 105 times more warming impact, pound for pound, than carbon dioxide (CO2). Even small leaks make a big difference. It has been estimated that as much as 8 percent of the methane in shale gas leaks into the air during the lifetime of a hydraulic shale gas well — up to twice what escapes from conventional gas production.

        • Steve

          What’s especially troubling about all this oil, gas, coal, and nuclear noise is that all the time, effort, and energy being spent now to extract more of these known-to-be harmful energy sources could be better directed toward developing sustainable systems. Wind and photovoltaic solar electrical generating technologies are becoming the predominant sources in countries like Denmark. Yes, the Danes pay far higher prices for gasoline than we do, but they’re okay with that because they recognize that the age of fossil fuels is coming to and end.

          It’s like Aesop’s fable about the Ants and the Grasshopper. While the Grasshopper fiddled away and ignored his future needs the Ants built up their stores for the winter. When the season changed the Grasshopper was alone outdoors in the cold with nothing to eat, while the Ants were snug and warm in their nest, with plenty of food to last them through the season.

          We are now at a cardinal moment, and the choices we make today will affect not only ourselves but our children’s children, from whom we borrow the earth. Do we want to hang onto the past even as it slips further and further into the shadows, or will we have the vision and courage to embrace the future?

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  • Linda

    You make a good point.

    The chief-of-staff of the Council on Environmental Quality, under the Bush administration was Phil Cooney. Cooney is not a scientist. He’s a lawyer, and he was a lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute, before going into the White House. Cooney would edit climate reports submitted to the White House in his own hand. In one report, a line that said earth is undergoing rapid change becomes “may be undergoing change.” “Uncertainty” becomes “significant remaining uncertainty.” One line that says energy production contributes to warming was just crossed out. Under Bush, the EPA served the oil industry, the safety of the common people be damned.

  • I have learn some excellent stuff here. Certainly value bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how a lot attempt you set to make this type of wonderful informative web site.

    • Helen


      There is some good information here, but there is also a wealth of inaccurate information so be forewarned. When someone posts claiming there is no evidence of anthropogenic-driven planetary climate change.

      My advice is to always follow the money. Are there problems with some of the data… of course, but that is why we have peer-review. When data is found to be incomplete or inaccurate, we go back and re-evaluate the data. Maggie backs up some of her statements with an article that she pointed everyone to. The problem is that the article does not back up her interpretation.

      Hydraulic fracturing is not sustainable. It used too much water, and we can survive without the natural gas recovered from hydraulic fracturing, but we can’t survive without clean water.

      The US passed “peak oil” in the 70s. We continue to drill more wells, but production continues to drop. We are simply running out of oil. The same with the Russian and Saudi oil fields. They are drilling more wells, but overall production is continuing to drop.

      For the past 20 years the Saudi’s have grown their own grain. But they have drained their fossil aquifer. They are now buying land in Ethiopia to grow their grain. They get their drinking water from desal, which is too expensive to use for crop irrigation. No water, no crops, and we die.

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  • Toos

    One item I don’t see mentioned in your fairly informative discussion is that the oil and gas, once extracted belongs to the oil and gas company, right? Do you think they’re going to turn around and sell it at a reduced price to Americans when they can sell it for the market price to China, India, Europe or anyone else?

    Once the oil, gas and water are gone what will the land be good for? Ok, there will be jobs for 10 years but then what?

    Don’t let yourselves be used by oil and gas companies to increase their bottom line. They’re here to take, not anything else. If you want to go forward, insist that the water not be ruined. Can fracking be done and leave a clean environment behind? So far it hasn’t worked out that way but maybe they just haven’t tried hard enough.

    The oil and gas companies are all about their bottom line. Don’t let ND suffer in the long term due to their greed.