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Sierra Daily

Jan 31, 2014

Sweet Crude Man Camp

Sweet Crude Man Camp on Vimeo

This morning on NPR's "Morning Edition" Kirk Siegler had a great story about a guy who lives in Western Montana and commutes 580 miles to work in the oil boom town of Williston, North Dakota ("Commuting to Distant Oil Fields: Good Money, At a Price").

Last summer, Richardson easily found work in northwestern North Dakota as a cement operator, putting casings on new oil wells. He has a bed in a "man camp" on the outskirts of Williston, but with so much drilling going on, he rarely goes there, even at night.

He usually works 18 to 24 hours straight, sleeping when he can in the back of a giant rig that he drives from one drill site to the next.

"It's pretty tough, trying to adjust to living in a truck, working on the job site on location, 24 hours a day, for three, four days at a time before you make it back to camp," Richardson says.

Richardson sounds exactly like one of the characters in Isaac Gale's wonderful short (10:35) film, Sweet Crude Man Camp, which also takes place in Williston: A guy living in his truck because he doesn't want to spend $4,000 a month to rent a dormlike room in a "man camp." As usual in resource booms, from the Gold Rush on, the real money is made not by the boomers but by those selling them the shovels. I could tell you all about it, or you could just watch it below. 


PAUL RAUBER is a senior editor at Sierra. He is the author, with Carl Pope, of the happily outdated Strategic Ignorance: Why the Bush Administration Is Recklessly Destroying a Century of Environmental Progress. Otherwise he is a cyclist, cook, and dad. Follow him on Twitter @paulrauber


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