Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Aftermath of Booming Oil and Fracking Industries: Acknowledging The Impacts on Women and Indigenous Groups.

The homes of oil field workers near Watford City, ND. 

Photo by Andrew Cullen for The New York Times.

By some accounts, the oil boom in the Bakken region of North Dakota is slowing. According to this article in The New York Times, "as oil prices have skidded to $30 a barrel, new drilling has dried up here, and the flood of wealth and workers is ebbing."

The article goes on to describe the ways that such a drastic change has impacted the areafrom the debt North Dakota took on to build the infrastructure to support the influx of oil workers since 2008, to those same oil workers leaving the area for home or other jobs now that they've been laid off.
But the article is oddly silent on the impact this shift is having on womenIndigenous women especiallyparticularly as more and more information has become available in the last several years about the dangerous intersection of extractive industries like fracking in North Dakota, and the safety and health of women. What has the decrease in the largely male, largely transient, population meant for the protection of women? For their sexual and reproductive health? Furthermore, with profits falling and debt increasing across the state, what will happen to the services for those women who have already experienced environmental violence? What will happen to those shelters, safe houses and survivors programs?
In a countryand worldso heavily reliant on oil and gas, communities like those in the Bakken are built up with little preparation or protections in place during boom times, only to be allowed to later fall with little preparation or protections when industry can no longer profit largely enough in those territories. As we have seen in many industry-impacted areas in North America, Indigenous women are often those most impacted during these booms. How will women fair as that boom wanes?
Read the entire NY Times article here.