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  • LETTER: Critics should visit the Bakken, and learnDecember 29, 2015

    It’s amazing that no matter how successful an industry is, trolls still come pointing their fingers at it. In this case, I’m particularly flabbergasted by HBO’s John Oliver and Mike McFeely, talk-show host and Forum News Service columnist.

    I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised by the lack of industry knowledge, given that one is a comedian and the other … I’m not sure.

    But both have stuck to the rinse-and-repeat strategy of targeting the oil industry to produce ratings on their shows. Has either driven any part of the oil fields, or are they still quoting the same New York Times articles that they’ve cited for the past two years?

    You see, I live and invest in western North Dakota. It’s my business to assess if this is a livable place where newcomers can raise happy and successful families.

    My properties depend on the truth, not ratings. And after spending nearly three years witnessing the good, the bad and the ugly, I’ve come to understand western North Dakota.

    People here love their land and their way of life more than opportunity. Yet they are a practical and self-sufficient group. So, when the oil companies came, the people listened.

    With limited resources, they have dealt with the many challenges that arise when you are the fastest growing county in the nation, all the while striking a balance between the effects of an industry and their closely held value of land.

    These are farmers and ranchers, after all. They care for the natural beauty of land as much as any hippy environmentalist I’ve ever met, and I’m originally from California!

    So, I invite Oliver and any columnist to put on their boots and take a drive to western North Dakota. Take some time to inspect a well. Notice how clean it is, and notice the impressive safety features that are set up to protect groundwater.

    Notice the underground pipelines being installed to in order to reduce the amount of natural gas that gets flared. Notice the vets coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan to high-paying jobs and the vets’ healthy young kids who play at the new recreation centers.

    This is not the Wild West. This is a community of people who are manhandling an industry that benefits the whole nation, while maintaining traditional values and agrarian way of life.

    So, I beseech the trolls out there to get their boots dirty and start understanding western North Dakotans before they cry for a federal crackdown to help people that don’t need or want that kind of remote authoritarianism. North Dakotans are self-sufficient types, something us urbanites too often forget about.

    I, for one, am doubling down on western North Dakota. There are few people in the world so dedicated to progress and so determined to shape their own destiny. That’s something we should celebrate. That’s something we should watch and admire.

    Corbin Graham


    Graham is project manager with Graham Development Co.

    As printed in the Grand Forks Herald, December 27, 2015.