Featured on the front page of CNN.com, “North Dakota’s real-life Jed Clampett“:
STANLEY, North Dakota (CNN) – Herb Geving unleashes a broad smile in his 11,000-square-foot mansion. The former cattleman, farmer and owner of a North Dakota garbage business is now retired, able to count the dollar signs brought in by three oil wells.
The 74-year-old grandfather receives whopping checks at the end of every month for the oil. He’ll never forget the time the first check came in January.
“Thousands, I guess you’d call it,” he says.
Geving chuckles when asked if it was for $2,000.
Was it closer to $10,000?
“You can keep going up and up and up,” he says from his home, decked out with a massive fire pit in the living room, semi-circular leather couch and bright orange shag carpet.
That’s the setup to report on energy development surrounding the Bakken Formation, an oil-bearing shale formation now profitable because of horizontal drilling, hydrofracking and the high price of oil. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates 3 to 4.3 billion barrels of recoverable oil given current technology.
But what about the environmental damage, the frightened animals, the threatened biospherical emanations?
Well, the mountain lions seem OK: “North Dakota cougar quota increased.”
Ah, sure, you say, but that’s out there in the hinterlands. A little energy development’s OK when it’s so sparsely populated, and besides, it’s not pristine like the pristine ANWR, pristinely speaking. (Someone must say that.)
From the Wall Street Journal, August 2, “How Texas Struck It Rich Beneath Suburbia” by Texas Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones, writing about the 7,500 natural gas wells tapping the Barnett Shale formation, some deep in the heart of the city of Fort Worth:
What I’ve seen is that while Congress balks at drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska out of fear of disturbing a few caribou, we’ve moved ahead to safely tap into an energy reserve located underneath suburban homes. And there is no better example of how Texas gets the balance right between energy and the environment than the development of the Barnett Shale.
By the way, CNN reports its Bakken Formation story and worldwide oil prices fall. Coincidence?