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Steve Slocum, Published February 01 2014

Letter: He gains from our oil chaos

In response to John Eickhof’s Jan. 27 commentary in The Forum:

I love to hear from people who don’t live in the middle of the chaos. The Bakken play has been good for his business, but it has come with great costs to communities and cultures living in it. We hear his logic all the time from those who don’t live here 24/7.

I don’t know about him, but with the advent of online shopping, there hasn’t been a store built in Williston that made the quality of my life better. One of the new restaurants that just opened has a $59 steak on the menu. Pretty sure this restaurant and others built here recently are more interested in elevating their quality of life, not mine.

Oh, and the traffic: Go take a look from the intersection on the south side of Watford City between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. “Ease” isn’t a word that comes to mind. “Stuck” would be.

Take a look at Eickhof’s city and compare it to Williston. It is filthy dirty here, since half the dirt from country roads has fallen off one of the 187,694 semi-trucks that came to the Williston Basin to make the quality of life here so much better. I have a son living in Grand Forks, and I visit Eickhof’s fair city. Grand Forks is stunningly beautiful compared to Williston.

While Eickhof is at it, he should take a look at state equipment, such as the quality and number of snow plows working around Grand Forks, and then come look at what our NDDOT folks have to do three times the work with. Maybe Eickhof should look at the dramatic rise in suicides in Williston and re-think how adept his company is at increasing the quality of life in western North Dakota.

Western North Dakota got played by a state government that wasn’t interested in watching their backs. It was far too busy watching out for Harold Hamm’s (of Oklahoma’s Continental Resources). If Eickhof disputes this, he should do some legwork. He’ll see the speed of business he so enjoys was the same speed conveyed to Hamm and others when they needed the state to approve permits in the Bakken play at a rate equal to the time necessary to drill and hold all their leases by production. They got it done and who suffered? North Dakotans whose leases didn’t expire, and thanks to the state’s help provided to Hamm and others, these North Dakotans never got to re-lease their minerals for a price equal to their value.

I’m guessing I’d be pretty close to right on by saying Eickhof’s company isn’t driven to work in the Williston Basin because of the opportunities to increase the quality of life in western North Dakota. Eickhof is here because he wants to make money, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Where he is wrong is when he heralds his efforts and becomes a harbinger of the benefits he provides to our quality of life out here. He is here to profit and does not want it slowed down because he believes he will have smaller checks to cash.

Please, Mr. Eickhoff, don’t blow smoke about your magnanimous work on increasing the quality of life out here in the west, while you and others profit from the Williston Basin, when you have no idea how diminished our quality of life has become since 2008.

Slocum lives in Williston, N.D.