NPR is out today with a new story profiling the changes and challenges facing rural communities in North Dakota as the influx of workers in the natural gas industry strains local resources. Kirk Seigler writes:
A remarkable transformation is underway in western North Dakota, where an oil boom is changing the state's fortunes and leaving once-sleepy towns bursting at the seams. In a series of stories, NPR is exploring the economic, social and environmental demands of this modern-day gold rush.
Just a few years ago, the idea of starting over in this remote corner of northwestern North Dakota was laughable. Starting wages of $100,000 — out here?
Believe it. Now, more and more people like Jennifer Brown are moving here every day. This frozen frontier boasts the nation's lowest unemployment rate. "Help wanted" signs are everywhere: in the oil fields, the hotels and restaurants that support them, in construction, hospitals — you name it.
But the boom is also causing severe growing pains — and turning many rural towns into ones that longtime residents may no longer recognize.