Heavyweight Responses to Local Fracking Bans, in the New York Times, by Jack Healy, January 3, 2015:
In an aggressive response to a wave of citizen-led drilling bans, state officials, energy companies and industry groups are taking Longmont and other municipalities to court, forcing local governments into what critics say are expensive, long-shot efforts to defend the measures.
While the details vary — some municipalities have voted for outright bans, and others for multiyear suspensions of fracking — energy companies in city after city argue that they have a right to extract underground minerals, and that the drilling bans amount to voter-approved theft.Here's an earlier story (Nov. 2014), out of Denton Texas, about local fracking bans.
New Research Links Scores of Earthquakes to Fracking Wells near a Fault in Ohio, in the New York Times, by Michael Wines, January 7, 2015. Here is the lede:
Not long after two mild earthquakes jolted the normally steady terrain outside Youngstown, Ohio, last March, geologists quickly decided that hydraulic fracturing operations at new oil-and-gas wells in the area had set off the tremors.
Now a detailed study has concluded that the earthquakes were not isolated events, but merely the largest of scores of quakes that rattled the area around the wells for more than a week.
The study, published this week in The Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, indicates that hydraulic fracturing, commonly called fracking, built up subterranean pressures that repeatedly caused slippage in an existing fault as close as a half-mile beneath the wells.
In North Dakota, A Tale of Oil, Corruption and Death, in the New York Times, by Deborah Sontag and Brent McDonald, December 28, 2014. This is mostly a feature about Tex Hall, now former chair of the M.H.A.Tribe (Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation). It depicts the conflict within the tribe over Hall's embrace of fracking on its Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota.
After six years of dizzyingly rapid oil development, anxiety about the environmental and social costs of the boom, as well as about tribal mismanagement and oil-related corruption, had burst to the surface.
By that point, there were two murder cases — one person dead in Spokane, Wash., the other missing but presumed dead in North Dakota — tied to oil business on the reservation. And Mr. Hall, a once-seemingly untouchable leader, was under investigation by his tribal council because of his connections to an Oregon man who would later be charged with murder for hire in the two deaths.And from the Religion pages of the New York Times, As North Dakota Oil Town Booms, a Priest Steadies the Newcomers, by Samuel G. Freedman, dateline Watford City, North Dakota, population 1,744.
For generations the remote terrain of Scandinavian and German stock, Watford City now attracts roughnecks and roustabouts, geologists and engineers. There are oil patch pros from East Texas, hopeful and desperate immigrants from Mexico, African-Americans escaping the cratered economy of places like East St. Louis. And with a male-to-female ratio estimated as high as 20 to 1, the vices have followed in step: pornography, prostitution, alcoholism, crystal meth.
The sole priest [Rev. Brian Gross] in the only Catholic church for a 20 miles around, Father Gross provides the staples of parish life: Mass seven times a week, confession whenever requested, religious education classes, baptism, first communion. He has begun a discussion group for men, made himself a regular at the town’s nine-hole golf course, and tossed down the occasional shot of tequila with Mexican parents celebrating a child’s baptism.And here's an older one, also about religion, from October, which I missed at the time. It regards a film, "The Overnighters," about a Williston, N.D., Lutheran pastor who let workers sleep on the floor of the church or in the parking lot.