Does a place really exist where the economy is actually booming these days, where unemployment sits below 2%, and thousands of jobs are just waiting to be filled? NPR explores Williston, a veritable boom-town in the N. Dakota Badlands thanks to advances in oil and gas extraction technologies drawing in major investments from oil companies. Horizontal drilling and "fracking" techniques have made it practical to exploit the estimated 11 billion barrels of oil in the region.
Williston and similar locales in other states are just parts of the changing global energy production landscape. Within two years, US oil imports dropped from two thirds to less than half, and experts predict the US will surpass both Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world's leading oil producer. The US and Canada are believed to sit over 4.4 trillion barrels of oil deposits, compared to just 1.2 trillion in the Middle East.
An expert remains skeptical about green energy. "You can't force a technology that's not commercial," she says, adding that more R&D is needed before that can become profitable. Meanwhile, Williston's mayor boasts, "We have probably between 2,000 and 3,000 job openings right now."
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