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Michael A. Ross, Published November 09 2013

Letter: Bakken: Iraq on prairie

October was the deadliest month in Iraq since April 2008 with 1,000 killed; another 1,600 maimed by car bombings, shootings and other violence. While hardly mentioned in the U.S. media, post-“liberation” Iraq has been deteriorating so rapidly that that puppet Prime-Minister Nuri al-Maliki was in Washington to plead for help in restoring order. Sorry, pal, not a major issue with us.

We left behind a secure oil infrastructure and the largest fortress embassy in the world. What is it to us that “Operation Iraqi Freedom’s” (a misnomer if ever there was one) aftermath left 1.5 million dead, ongoing bloodshed and chaos, an economy in shambles and the environment polluted with depleted uranium.

On the bright side, Iraqi oil is flowing westward along with billions in profits to U.S. and U.K oil giants.

Reading Forum writer James Ferragut’s Nov. 3 column titled “Plunder in the Bakken Accelerates,” it occurred to me that there is a pattern with these multinational, multibillion- dollar oil and gas corporations: Invasion-plunder-profits, and in this case, eventual withdrawal.

Ferragut noted a rancher who owned surface rights to his land, but not drilling (mineral) rights. Those rights had long been sold or leased to oil companies. In this case, the oil company had agreed to paying the rancher a pittance of a $1,000 per well to plunder their land with three wells, or so they said. Fracking wells have a rapid depletion rate, and to keep profits up, new wells must constantly be drilled. The three wells are now up to 22. The landowner has no recourse to stop the drilling.

The North Dakota Industrial Commission has announced that 35,000 additional wells will be drilled in the next 15 years. In the fracking (short for hydraulic fracturing) process, millions of gallons of toxic chemicals are pumped into the ground. These chemicals are provided by oil service giant Halliburton (Dick Cheney’s old company) that made billions on no-bid contracts in Iraq. The chemicals will pollute the ground water for years to come. All the oil majors in Iraq are in the Bakken until the wells run dry and the boom turns to bust.

The Bakken has been termed “Kuwait on the Prairie.” I suggest that “Iraq on the Prairie” would be more appropriate.

Ross lives in Hawley, Minn.