How an oil boom in North Dakota led to a boom in evictions

Source: Grist


The sign that welcomes people into Williston, North Dakota, has an inscription at the bottom: “Boomtown, USA.” It’s one way of characterizing the now infamous oil boom that doubled the city’s population between 2010 and 2020, with an influx of workers eager to get to the oilfields. All those newcomers led to another boom: an increase in evictions. 

New research from Princeton University sheds light on the relationship between fracking and evictions, finding that in Williams County, the surrounding area of Williston, eviction filings rose from 0.002 percent in 2010 to over 7 percent by 2019. In the same time period, fracked oil in the area grew from 300,000 barrels of oil a month to 7½ million barrels a month.

Williston is not alone. Other research backs up the connection between fracking and evictions, since the industry often draws an influx of new, temporary residents to places like Midland, Texas, or Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. This is because fracking often leads to a plethora of high-paying jobs. In the meantime, long-time residents aren’t always able to access the wealth that these areas produce and are left to bear out the consequences long after the boom is over. 

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