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My Country No More exclusive on Independent Lens PBS: One woman fights Big Oil

On the upcoming PBS, My Country No More (Independent Lens) shows how one woman passionately fights against Big oil’s interests in a small town being usurped by the dollars and influence this brings.

The impacts of North Dakota’s insanely active oil boom on a small town are shown writ large in a town council meeting where small town politics intersect with Big Oil interests. The results should not surprise you.

In our exclusive clip, you’ll see a meeting of the County Commission to either approve or deny the building of an oil refinery in Trenton, North Dakota.

Kalie Rider in a clip from My Country No More exclusive on Independent Lens PBS

Kalie Rider in a still from our exclusive clip in the town hall. Pic credit: PBS

In the audience is Kalie Rider, one of the main characters in the film airing tonight.

The clip reveals Katie’s frustrations as the Dakota Access Pipeline has railroaded small communities like Trenton, North Dakota.

She is completely against the building of the refinery and feels the town’s rural way of life is being lost due to the expansion of the oil industry.

She says: ” I just think it’s so tragic that we think that we have endless space out here because we believed for so long. That that’s all like that’s what North Dakota is… just endless space.”

“Because everywhere else there fighting for open space and here we just take it for granted.”

“And it’s like a business opportunity and it’s so easy to exploit because we don’t know how to handle it.”

“It’s my family that they’re gambling and it’s my community that they’re gambling. I don’t wanna be a part of that gamble.”

Others in the meeting are in favor of the refinery and the County Commission votes to approve building it, despite her opposition.

In the profoundly revealing clip, Mel Falcon of Dakota Oil Processing tells city council it has been 37 years since a refinery has been built.

City Council head commissioner Dan Kalil says: “Mel, you are going to break that barrier…It’s obvious that something has to give. We have to have energy to keep everybody cool but the railroad is there and
that’s really what the key is.”

Background

From the years 2011 and 2016, oil drilling in rural North Dakota hit peak production, creating what is described as a “modern-day gold rush” in Trenton, North Dakota, that has a population less than 1000.

From PBS:

With billions of dollars to be gained in an industry-friendly state with a “reasonable regulation” climate, small towns like Trenton became overwhelmed by an influx of workers, and countless acres of farmland were repurposed for industrial development. My Country No More, a new documentary produced and directed by Rita Baghdadi and Jeremiah Hammerling, follows the rise and fall of the oil boom in North Dakota and paints a portrait of a rural American community in crisis. Through the voices of Trenton’s residents, the film challenges the notion of “progress” and questions the long-term human consequences of short-term approaches to land use, decisions that boom on affect all Americans, rural and urban alike.

Kalie Rider and her older brother Jed are striving to return to a life of farming after having suffered the loss of their parents’ farm during the 1980s farm crisis.

Their uncle’s decision to sell a piece of land for a planned ethanol plant sets off a chain of consequences from which there is no turning back.

With the Trenton church being eyed for a diesel refinery, the community becomes divided, with some favoring development and jobs, and others bemoaning the loss of their rural way of life.

Lois Vossen, executive producer of Independent Lens says: “Rita and Jeremiah have created a contemplative, beautifully shot film about a town caught between economic opportunity and personal regret.”

“As the foundation of life and identity shifts beneath their feet, the people of Trenton are left asking what is the value of community history and what sacrifices are they willing to make to preserve a vanishing way of life,” she continued.

You can bet Big Oil wins this battle. Watch tonight to see how the town is handling the bulldozering of the local resources.

My Country No More’ premieres Monday, January 7 on Independent Lens on PBS. Online Streaming Begins January 8


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