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Eastern Idahoans Migrate To North Dakota Oil Fields

By By Jessica Crandall
Published On: Feb 28 2012 09:36:04 AM CST
Updated On: Feb 29 2012 11:13:12 AM CST
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho -

Fracking has become one of the biggest buzz words of 2012.

It's a divisive issue, sparking strong opinions and passion for and against the latest employment craze..

If you're not familiar with the term, it's time to bone up on induced hydraulic fracturing, shortened to fracking.

Scores of eastern Idahoans are traveling out to North Dakota, Montana and now the Boise area, for quick and sometimes lucrative work.

Energy companies use it as a process to extract gas and petroleum from rock layers.

They fracture source rocks by shooting pressurized fluid or water deep into the ground, freeing up the natural fuel.

Although fracking began 65 years ago, recently it's come more into the spotlight due to environmental concerns and popularity.

Idaho Falls native Sheldon Horn travels to North Dakota for two to three weeks at a time, hauling water for fracking to and from drilling sites.

A big rig has become his home away from home.

"The living conditions are pretty simple -- there are none. Unless you've been up there for a long time and have been fortunate enough to find a house," said Sheldon.

With a wife and two kids in Idaho Falls, it can be pretty rough. He's been doing it for several years now.

"It was hard to get used to, hard to adjust. We miss him really badly for the first few days," said Sheldon's wife Timmery.

"I tell everyone the same saying, 'Either your cup is half empty or it's half full,' and you just have to stay positive," said Sheldon.

Droves of Idahoans are camping out on both sides of the Montana and North Dakota border, where fracking has become a cramped lifestyle.

"There's nowhere. There are people that are literally camping out in the Wal-mart parking lot at the very edge," said Sheldon.

It's paying off.

North Dakota leads the nation with an extremely low jobless rate -- 3.3 percent.

That's five percent less than the national average.

Even still, fracking faces a lot of opposition from environmentalists concerned with its affect on drinking water.

Some believe it may even trigger earthquakes, like the New Year's Eve tremblor in Ohio.

Sheldon said he'll keep his faith in the oil companies because they keep drilling areas safe.

"It's a very strict environment. You can't mess around. They don't mess around," said Sheldon.

"I don't have any major complaints yet. I hope that it works out long term," said Timmery.

Reporter Jessica Crandall interviewed Sheldon as he was just about to leave for another stint in the oil fields. It's been two weeks now and he is still there, looking to spend another week on the road.

Fracking seems to be migrating to Idaho. Snake River Oil has been leasing land in the Boise area for this very purpose.

The Idaho House passed a bill that places state oversight on the natural gas industry.

Senate approval is pending.

Many eastern Idahoans are unhappy with the legislation, saying it limits county and city control.

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