What the Frack, U.S.?

by Vins
Published: Last Updated on

North Dakota and other states’ fracking companies have disrupted communities in many ways. In the last ten years, the U.S. has become the biggest gas and oil producer in the world, raising many questions and concerns about the impact of the fracking boom on both the natural environment and communities. Behind Texas, North Dakota is the second state producing the most natural gas than any other state in the country.

Daily production in North Dakota is nearly 1.2 million barrels a day, creating a number of negative social impacts in North Dakota communities. The demand for drilling oil has increased employment rates and caused small towns to break down. Increasing employment rates means increased need for living space. Small towns have turned into populated man-camps of oil field workers. Men outnumbering women causes more social problems and crime, such as sexual assaults and rapes.

Not only is crime increasing, but environmental dangers are too. The sulfur filled air is too much to bear for small town farm citizens, pushing them out of their homes. In North Dakota, three million gallons of toxic salt water leaked into a creek that feeds into the Missouri River, creating the largest spill in the state. Spills, explosions, and toxic air have angered many citizens, in some extreme cases pushing them to violence, alcohol abuse, and delinquency.

The corporate media, supported by energy advertising dollars, do not seem interested in informing the public on the negative consequences of hydraulic fracturing, though the Washington Post has recently published a few critical reports. Coverage in USA Today has generally emphasized the economic benefits of fracking for the middle class, but without taking into account the harm that fracking does.


Anastasia Pantsios, “Plunging Oil Prices Trigger Economic Downturn in Fracking Boom Town” EcoWatch, January 3, 2015, http://ecowatch.com/2015/01/03/plunging-oil-prices-impacts-fracking-town/.

“North Dakota and Fracking,” Earthjustice, June 29, 2012, http://earthjustice.org/features/north-dakota-and-fracking.

Student Researcher: Brandi Giroux (Burlington College)

Faculty Evaluator: Rob Williams (Burlington College)