Located 180 miles northwest of Bismark, North Dakota, the White Earth Valley lies two miles above a shale rock formation full of oil which can now be extracted because of new technology, leaving oil pads like this scattered across the prairie landscape.
Most of the oil in this region is obtained by fracking, a controversial drilling method that injects fluids into the ground to fracture oil shale. This technique permanently scars the prairielands and is disliked by many area natives, but at the same time it can offer financial benefits for struggling families.
Some ranchers like Scott Davis tried, but failed, to stop drilling and fracking on his native prairie, which alter prairie habits and could bring catastrophic global warming closer. However, the oil wells have brought financial rewards to Scott and his family. Their relationship with the oil boom raises tough questions.
The new drilling methods offer temporary financial stability to North Dakota and may help make the United States energy independent. They can also damage land and livelihoods, and some people are organizing to get more regulatory protection.
The populations of nearby towns have exploded as people flood this corner of North Dakota to work the oil wells. The economic boom means monetary stability for North Dakota regions, but it also comes with the negative side effects of industrialization.
Area resident Edyth Pladson is another example of the struggle between the right and wrong of fracking. She says that it’s nice to have the extra money the oil brings, but she also admits she’s glad she doesn’t live near the drilling sites because she couldn’t stand the noise of fracking and drilling.