Tester holds field hearing in the Bakken
Senator hears from folks on the ground about impacts of the oil boom
(SIDNEY, Mont.) – Senator Jon Tester today held a field hearing in Sidney, Montana to take an in-depth look at infrastructure and law enforcement needs in the rapidly growing Bakken region and examine the best ways to support local communities, businesses and families.
As Chairman of the Senate subcommittee that oversees the federal workforce, Tester held the hearing to identify the most pressing needs of Bakken-area communities, as well as some much-needed solutions.
“The Bakken Formation has emerged in recent years as one of the most critical sources of oil in the United States. And as a result, we’re seeing things in Eastern Montana and Western North Dakota that we’ve never seen before – both good and bad,” Tester said.
Tester questioned three panels of witnesses about what they are seeing on the ground and what he can do to help bring resources to the region.
Dawson County Sheriff Craig Anderson told Tester that his county jail is so crowded that inmates are sleeping on the floor and that his office is looking for funding to complete a construction project. U.S. Attorney Mike Cotter and Montana Attorney General Tim Fox both raised concerns about human and drug trafficking, as well as other crimes increasing in the region. Richland Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Leslie Messer highlighted how the oilfield is drawing qualified employees away from businesses in downtown Sidney, leaving local employers understaffed and unable to compete with the higher wages offered by oil companies.
Montana Lieutenant Governor Angela McLean talked about how the state of Montana is helping to address the needs in the Bakken.
“The Bakken is the story of a rapid and dramatic flood of workers, families and wealth into the area that has provided an economic boon for local businesses and communities,” Tester said. “But it’s also the story of local communities left scrambling for scarce resources to meet the urgent infrastructure and housing needs of a largely transient workforce.”
Senator Tester will take what he learned from this hearing and look for ways to bring more resources and solutions to the region.
Tester recently held a listening session in Poplar, Montana on human trafficking and announced a series of grants that will help eastern Montana combat domestic and sexual violence. In July 2013, Tester toured the region with Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and then-National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske.
The hearing record will be open for 15 days.