Last week’s end-of-month job report, on the surface, sounded optimistic. About 120,000 private-sector jobs were added to the economy, dropping the unemployment rate to 8.6 percent. The story beneath the numbers isn’t quite so encouraging. Many of those new jobs are temporary, holiday retail positions. Also, much of the rate drop was attributable to the fact that 315,000 people gave up their search for jobs and left the workforce.
For months, however, while America’s unemployment figures have remained dismal, North Dakota has experienced an employment boon. While the rest of us are biting our nails and renewing our Valium prescriptions, North Dakotans are enjoying a 3.5 percent unemployment rate.
How did they do it? Oil, that dirty, little word that puts fear into the hearts of tree-huggers and sends Al Gore acolytes screaming to their master.
In 2008, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that the North Dakota Bakken formation would yield 3 billion to 4.3 billion barrels of crude oil, making it the largest continuous depository of oil in the lower 48 states. Moreover, in May of this year, the USGS began a reassessment of its 2008 figures, stating that “oil production from the Bakken in North Dakota has steadily increased from about 28 million barrels in 2008, . . . to approximately 86 million barrels in 2010.” The rising production figures, coupled with advances in geologic modeling and drilling technologies, prompted the USGS’s reassessment, which is estimated to take two years.
A friend’s dad has colleagues in Williston, N.D., the heart of the Bakken district. He describes the area in “gold-rush town” terms, replete with inflated rents, wages and salaries, workers sleeping in cars and in tents due to insufficient housing, and many hundreds of jobs left unfilled. Bakkennd.comalways lists close to a thousand well-paying petroleum-related jobs that are available in the region at any given time.
Compare this to Obama’s “green” economy. We all know about the colossal failure of Solyndra and SunPower after they picked our pockets clean. Abound Solar of Colorado may be next in line. The latest debacle is the state of Maryland. It spent $2.3 million on a renewable energy program, which resulted in a measly $637,000 in savings. The point is, as attractive the idea of renewable energy is, it just plain isn’t ready yet. It’s not going to happen by the government wishing it so or throwing money at it.
Ideas for alternative energy sources have finally reached the grotesque. People in Great Britain are now considering burning human corpses to produce electricity. Does anyone have an extra carbon credit they can lend these folks?
The Bakken district is already up, running and in production. The Bakken oil reserve estimates, already mammoth, may very well be dwarfed by the USGS’s new reassessment. Think of Bakken as one leg of a tripod, with the Alaskan ANWR region and the Gulf of Mexico providing the other two legs. Bakken cannot support our nation’s hydrocarbon energy needs on its own. It’s time to open up the other two regions to attain the goal of total energy independence.
Of greater concern is the economics. In our present economy, the country’s main focus should be jobs. The very notion of a vibrant, green economy fueled by alternative energy should be put in the same category as fairy dust and unicorns. Spain discovered this years ago. We can’t afford to go on repeating Spain’s mistakes while expecting different results. There’s no better example of this than the$230,000 the government spent on a green jobs website that lists no jobs. The more we promote a green jobs policy, the longer we’ll endure a scorched-earth economy.
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