Get a grip on the population boom, N.D.
It's time to build a wall around the state of North Dakota. No, not to keep people in. To keep them out. We're bursting at the seams. First, the 2008 census estimate placed the state's population at 641,481, a whopping 3,577 more people than we h...
It's time to build a wall around the state of North Dakota. No, not to keep people in. To keep them out.
We're bursting at the seams.
First, the 2008 census estimate placed the state's population at 641,481, a whopping 3,577 more people than we had a year earlier. My goodness, that's almost another Grafton.
Do we have enough space to add another Grafton year after year after year? Of course, we don't. If we grew one Grafton for 1,000 years, we'd be as populous as Kentucky. And if we ever became a Kentucky, our descendants would never forgive us for our inaction in nipping this population explosion in the bud.
Now, some of you may think that North Dakota could handle more people. Well, we already have 9.3 residents per square mile. That's more than two people per quarter section.
Alaska, with 1.1 residents per square mile, has much more elbow room. It's clear that, given enough space, North Dakota hockey moms could become "mavericky."
Alaska recently displaced North Dakota in the highly coveted 47th spot among the 50 states for population. North Dakota dropped to 48th place, a fact that might prompt pro-growth folks to maintain that we don't need to quell the teeming masses.
But other census numbers released this month should be an alarm that it won't be long before we're New Jersey (1,171 people per square mile). The Census Bureau said that children younger than 1 in the state went from 8,662 to 8,998 during the past year, a meteoric increase of 3.9 percent.
Also, the bureau estimates that 122 more people came to North Dakota than left the state in 2008. It's the first time in nearly two decades that the state has had positive immigration. This comes after some years when the annual out-immigration was 10,000.
The baby boom and the immigration boom both can be directly connected to the oil boom. North Dakota produced a record 67.2 million barrels of oil last year.
As a result of that increased production, 12 of the 16 counties in the state's oil patch had a population increase. Most oil workers are young adults, the procreation peak years, meaning this four-figure population gain likely will continue as long as oil production remains high.
So, there's only one way to stop this population snowball going uphill. We need to lower annual oil production from 67.2 million to about 12 quarts, just enough to keep a turquoise 1997 Mercury Mystique running for a year.
Naysayers may point out that the huge revenues from oil production allowed the state to lower our property taxes and keep our state taxes low. Naysayers may note that the state needs oil patch jobs and spinoff jobs to keep our children in the state. Naysayers may argue that landowners grow rich from oil finds.
This is all true. But I'm growing claustrophobic from the 9.3 people per square mile.
Reach Bakken at (701) 780-1125; (800) 477-6572, ext. 125; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .