We're not sure everyone in North Dakota shares the opinion of Lynn Helms, director of the state Department of Mineral Resources, who said this at a recent conference: "A?population of a million. That is a cool number. It would be a wonderful state to live in."
Helms was talking about the potential for the state's population to grow if the oil industry continues to expand here. If everything went the state's way, Helms predicted, the state could double its oil production by 2015, which would send the population skyrocketing.
A million people in North Dakota? The state has struggled in some areas to keep up with the current population growth, with the most recent U.S. Census Bureau's count at 683,932. There's no realistic way the state could handle another 300,000 people in the next few years. Such a population explosion would overwhelm infrastructures all across the state, especially in the western portion of North Dakota. Cities simply could not grow that fast without serious side effects, and we wonder how the state and private industry would keep up with the demand for housing and other necessities.
We don't doubt the oil industry will continue to grow, and perhaps the state will double its production in the next three years. But providing basic necessities for another 300,000 residents in the near future is simply unrealistic.