For the first time in history I have become slightly envious of North Dakota. Why would I be envious of a state that is so cold you have to plug in your car battery during winter nights? I’m envious because of their hot economy where unemployment is only 3.2%, not in the double digits as in Nevada. Their low unemployment rate mainly stems from hydraulic fracking which has allowed North Dakota to become the second largest oil producer in the United States, passing Alaska in 2012. This is a technology that could allow the United States to stop importing oil in ten or twenty years.
Hopefully Nevada can benefit from this new oil extraction technology, and recent news suggests it could profit. Noble Energy has recently budgeted $130 million to explore for oil and gas on lease holdings by Elko. They believe that there could be over a billion barrels of oil that could economically be drilled in today’s environment with hydraulic fracking. They estimate that production could be as high as 50,000 barrels per day, far in excess of the current 1,000 barrels being produced. This would create jobs for the drillers, pipeline constructors, and for all the supporting industries. In addition, this would bring in new taxes for the State and Counties from the net proceeds of minerals and business taxes.
I’m all for this potential diversification in Nevada’s economy. Sure there are potential risks with fracking like contaminating the groundwater, but if North Dakota can produce successfully over 700,000 barrels of oil per day I see no reason why Nevada can’t, assuming Noble’s tests are positive. And while I’m supporting a contentious environmental project that could be a boon to Nevada I’d like to throw my support behind another, Yucca Mountain. As a former Nye County resident, I can attest to how economically positive nuclear waste storage would be not to mention that it could blossom into more supporting industries. Nevada could be the hub for the whole nuclear industry and maybe we could show that recycling nuclear waste, as the French do, is not as dangerous as a concept as the government would like you to believe.