Monday, December 17, 2012

Shortages of steel-toed boots in Helena? Yes, it's the Bakken, yet again

The article is too long and too jam-packed with information to summarize, so just go read Jan Falstad's article for Lee Newspapers entitled "Booming Bakken: Oil flurry spreads across Eastern Montana"

The usual information about housing shortages spreading ever westward in Montana is of course present, and there is this about traffic on I-94:

Like wagon trains of yesteryear, the traffic tells the tale of the Bakken oil boom.

Semitrailers haul sand, liquid nitrogen, pipe, tanks and modular homes across Montana to the oil fields and change the prairie night sky.

“When you drive down the interstate from Billings to Miles City or Glendive, all you see is traffic at night. It’s almost like the outskirts of Minneapolis,” said Mike Coryell, head of Miles City Economic Development Council.

Sigh. Yes, this is all too true. I log about 1000 miles a month pounding across eastern Montana highways, and I can attest that the days when one could put the cruise control on 82, put on some music, go to sleep, and wake up when you arrived at your destination are sadly gone. (Note to the beloved: I'm joking!)

On a more serious note, Falstad writes that the legislature has some serious work to do in sharing the wealth with the communities that created it. It's funny how Helena is full of politicians and bureaucrats who probably largely agree with President Obama's philosophy about "spreading the wealth around," particularly when the wealth flows from east to west in our fair state. That needs to change.

Under current law, the state keeps 50 percent of mineral tax revenues, schools get 20 percent, counties 19 percent and cities and towns, which shoulder most of the impacts, receive one-tenth of 1 percent.

She also notes that the real impact on Miles City may come if the Otter Creek coal fields start getting developed. I won't hold my breath.

But the most enjoyable part of the article was this:

One Helena mom couldn’t find steel-toed work boots for her son last summer because Bakken workers living in Montana’s capital and commuting to work had bought them all.

What will be next? Missoula becoming a bedroom community for the Bakken? That could prove interesting...

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