We all know that oil exploration has had a profound impact on life in western North Dakota.
But exactly what are the impacts and how can local governments deal with them?
Those were questions being considered at a meeting of officials from 19 counties in oil country yesterday in Stanley.
The group, called Building Communities, is funded by a grant from the federal government.
And its members talked about oil - and the other key industries of the region such as farming and ranching - in figuring out how to plan for the future.
The group set up some short- and long-term goals, including having a report ready for next January's legislative session.
(Dan Brosz, Building Communities) "It's a three-year project but we hope to have the main infrastructure information completed by fall so we can report to the legislature on what our impacts and needs are and then during the next two years get it all put together and make any changes that need to be made as this oil and gas thing changes all the time and try to wrap it up into a group so we can go back to the legislature a last time and have a really good plan."
Brosz says it's critical for the counties and cities impacted by the oil boom to come up with specific lists of problems and costs associated with addressing them. And to make sure local citizens aren't burdened by the expansion.
(Dan Brosz, Building Communities) "We're trying to identify what's the real impact that's over and above. We don't want our citizens to have to pay for energy development, it's nice to have, it does bring some benefits, but on the other hand there are over and above costs that shouldn't have to be born just because you happen to live in western North Dakota. "
The Building Communities group will be meeting regularly to work out details of its plans to be presented to the legislature.