North Dakota, a Portrait of an Oil Boom

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North Dakota’s oil boom has been called everything from the region’s equivalent of a gold rush, to its version of Silicon Valley. And it’s all thanks to a the Bakken formation, a 360 million year old shale tectonic plate sitting underneath much of the northwestern part of the state, which is thought to hold around 18 billion barrels of oil.

But the good times have not come without a price: The state has run up against a serious shortage of housing for the thousands who have poured in looking for work. The method of extracting the oil is controversial, too. Hydraulic Fracturing, more commonly known as fracking, is the bête noire of many environmentalists nationwide. The process sees workers inject pressurized fluid into the ground in order to release natural gas from the shale.

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