Reprinted by permission of the author and the High Plains Reader
By Charlie Barber
Amillion people spread out over this state [North Dakota] is not going to seem very populated.”
– Harold Hamm, Chairman and CEO of Continental Resources
“We kind of feel like we’re drinking out of a fire hose right now.”
– Ward Koeser, Mayor, Williston, ND
“The genuine man of action is not intent on renovating the world, but on possessing it.”
– Eric Hoffer
“Our frustration is greater when we have much and want more than when we have nothing and want some.”
– Eric Hoffer
“History is made by juveniles.”
– Frederick Gentles
After their congenial discussion about the naming of pipelines, the Oil Genie and the Troll Wizard were not finished in my back yard. They had become fascinated with a strange group of people who had gathered in Bismarck to discuss petroleum put in the ground under the Bakken by God and the dinosaurs, but which they considered their doing, and their property. The Genie and the Wizard were most fascinated of all by a man some of the media have called “The Man Who Bought North Dakota.”
Troll Wizard: Who are these deluded people who claim credit for the oil driven prosperity on the Bakken, but blame problems they have caused by issuing too many oil leases too fast and pushing for too much too soon on somebody else?
Oil Genie: I believe you are referring to the gathering of oil industry executives and politicians at the annual Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in the Bismarck Civic Center, May 22-24, as reported by the Bismarck Tribune, among others. Their most outspoken spokesperson, and biggest big shot, according to Bloomberg Business Week, would seem to be Harold Hamm.
I prefer to think of him as an “Oil Sorcerer.”
TW: You mean he’s one of us?
OG: In a way, yes. Every family has its share of unfortunate kin.
TW: Is Oil Sorcerer Hamm like the Sorcerer in Walt Disney’s “Sorcerer’s Apprentice?”
OG: No. That Sorcerer actually knew how to control the disastrous flooding let loose by his apprentice. As I remember, the role of the apprentice was portrayed brilliantly by Mickey Mouse.
TW: Does Oil Sorcerer Hamm have apprentices?
OG: Oh yes. Governor Jack Dalrymple, his Director of the state Department of Mineral Resources, Lynn Helms, President of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, Ron [Fracking liquids are “mostly water”] Ness, Senator John Hoeven [R-ND] Congressman Rick Berg [R-ND], Public Service Commissioners Kevin Cramer, Tony Clark and Brian Kalk, and Republican leaders in the North Dakota House and Senate.
TW: Are they all like Fantasia’s Mickey Mouse?
OG: Yes, in the sense that, like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, they know how to unleash the oil from the ground, but don’t know how to control it and all the harmful effects it causes in all of the small towns in oil country.
TW: I’m not so sure that I would label men like Harold Hamm, and other similar Oil and Gas CEO’s as sorcerers.
OG: What would you call them?
TW: Juvenile delinquents, the kind of kids who always want their way, and don’t have parents with enough tough love to discipline them.
OG: How on earth would you administer “tough love” to a powerful Oil CEO?
TW: Not easily, I’m sure, but it’s been done before by Republican President Teddy Roosevelt and Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the national level, and Governor Art Link here in North Dakota.
OG: You mean that North Dakota voters once elected government officials whom people expected to nurture public health, safety and infrastructure, and not just let the larger corporations do as they pleased with their land and their people?
TW: Yes. North Dakota voters have shown in the past that when they were paying attention to what was being done to them, they were a force to be reckoned with.
OG: Now that would really be magical, wouldn’t it?