Capitalism Producing Oil: A Story of Williston, North Dakota

Authors: Chad Chambers*, Student (University of Washington-Tacoma, WA)
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Geographic Information Science and Systems, Urban Geography
Keywords: Oil, Fracking, Capitalism, Political Economy, Political Ecology, Urbanization, Machine Learning
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Southdown, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

There has been a great deal of spatial and environmental analysis in the Williston Basin of North Dakota involving the oil and gas industries hydraulic fracking. While many of these studies engage the direct environmental impacts of fracking itself, they do not focus on capturing the implications of the rapidly built environment. Large corporations backed by relaxed state environmental policies are rapidly expanding their wealth at the cost of environmental degradation, while simultaneously promoting unsustainable urbanization. To examine the effects of rapidly urbanized space in North Dakota, a comparative analysis will be implemented to illustrate the changing landscapes, culture, and place through the development of mobile urban sprawls, population growth, and nighttime light. As the pattern of oil extraction localities change so do nomadic mobile urban sprawls. These mobile home and vehicle sprawls are the direct epidemic result of the oil boom, but lack stagnation; thus, the landscape depletion of naturally occurring mineral demands the fluid movement of non-permanent settlements though space and time. When natural oil resources are tapped out by hydraulic fracking, the extraction of those resources to produce capital change, moving non-permanent settlement localities. Fracking has also drawn larger populations to Williston; this can be observed by the increased presence of nighttime light. In order to weigh recent surges in these lights, the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program data will be quantified using python scripting, while Open Source Computer Vision Library will act as a new innovative means of quickly detecting the omnipresent boom of non-permanent residences.

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