Thursday, September 10, 2015

Oil Boom a Bust for ND; Gates Urged to Divest Fossil Fuels

Oil boom a loser for North Dakota cities, counties, study finds

By Sean Cockerham    Sun Herald    September 9, 2015

— While the massive Bakken oil boom drew hordes of job seekers and international attention to the remote prairies of North Dakota and Montana in recent years, it’s turned into a money loser for most cities and counties in the region.

Crime in Dunn County, N.D., in the heart of the nation’s oil boom, skyrocketed 60 percent in just three years, and the road maintenance budget soared from $1.5 million to $25 million.

The local government couldn’t keep up, with demand for services outpacing the growth in tax revenue by as much as 40 percent. The problem continues as the drop in oil prices in the past year means increasingly less money for the county to spend on projects – while drilling, the truck traffic that eats up the roads, and demand for community services haven’t stopped.

“The gap between revenues and needs is still fairly large,” Daryl Dukart, a Dunn County commissioner, said in an interview. “It will take many years to balance out.”

Dunn County is far from alone. Analysis from researchers at Duke University found that “most local governments in North Dakota and Montana’s Bakken region have experienced net negative fiscal effects” from the shale drilling boom.....

 ....It is a different story elsewhere in the nation, where local governments have benefited from the drilling surge. In Texas, which led the drilling boom along with North Dakota, “the net financial effects of recent oil and gas development have ranged from roughly neutral to a large net positive,” according to the Duke University research published this week by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

North Dakota cities and counties have been slammed. Cities have struggled to provide sewer and water infrastructure “to the many thousands of people who have moved to the area,” Raimi said.

“For counties the biggest challenge is roads. The oil industry relies on a large fleet of heavy vehicles. And those vehicles can do substantial damage to very rural roads,” Raimi said...... more here

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Seattle calls on Bill Gates to divest from fossil fuels

Former city mayor launches campaign of daily protests outside Gates’ Foundation visitor centre till it commits to divestment 

The Guardian  Sept 9, 2015     video at site

Microsoft founder Bill Gates is facing fresh calls to move his charity’s investments out of fossil fuels from the community in Seattle where it is based, led by the city’s former mayor.

The Bill and Melinda Gates’ Foundation is the world’s largest charitable foundation and funder of medical research. It had $1.4bn (£1bn) invested in fossil fuel companies, according to its latest available tax filings from 2013.

Speaking to the Guardian, former mayor Michael McGinn said that Gates could not simultaneously “hit the brake and the accelerator at the same time” in his approach to tackling climate change.

The campaign’s launch on Wednesday will include a demonstration outside the foundation’s visitor centre under a sign which reads “Every person deserves the chance to live a healthy, productive life”.
The protesters’ banner reads: “Yes they do! Divest from fossil fuels now.” Campaigners plan to gather there every day until the foundation commits to shift its assets away from fossil fuel companies.

McGinn and the environmental NGO 350Seattle delivered a letter to the foundation’s headquarters in Seattle last week, endorsed by 24 organisations in the community, including the local branches of the Sierra Club and Audubon Society alongside other environmental, faith, student and parenting groups.
It reads: “We believe that a charitable foundation with the global reach of the Gates Foundation has a moral obligation to divest completely from fossil fuels....   more here

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