April 20, 2021

In North Dakota’s Bakken Oil Field, The Smell of Diesel, the Sound of Trucks

WILLISTON, ND — Past midnight at the station platform in Spokane, 850 miles east of this riotous Great Plains city riding the lashing tail of an oil drilling dragon, the roustabouts and heavy equipment operators kiss wives and girlfriends, then reluctantly board Amtrak’s Empire Builder. Twenty-one day shifts, 14 hours a day, in wind-whipped cold and in a perilous work zone that can maim or kill has a way of quelling enthusiasm — even when …

Read More

Diplomacy in Climate Talks No Match For New Energy Alliances

On November 29 representatives from 190 countries will be in Cancun, Mexico for the 16th Conference of the Parties under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Late last week, following a two-day Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate in Washington, the Obama administration’s chief climate negotiator told reporters not to expect too much. “I would describe myself right now as neither an optimist nor a pessimist,” said Todd Stern, the State Department’s …

Read More

The Next Era of Hydrocarbon Development: Well Underway and Dirtier Than the First

The most direct path to the nation’s newest big oil and gas fields is U.S. Highway12, two lanes of black top that unfolds from Grays Harbor in Washington State and heads east across the top of the country to Detroit. The 2,500-mile route, parts of which were used by Lewis and Clark to open the American frontier, has quickly become an essential supply line for the energy industry. With astonishing speed and influence, American oil …

Read More

North Dakota’s Bakken Shale Oil Boom and Risks To Water

Over at Circle of Blue, where I serve as senior editor, we’ve been working on Choke Point: U.S., a series of original articles about the tightening contest between rising energy demand and diminishing supplies of fresh water. In our latest chapter, we explored the big boom in oil and gas production on the northern Great Plains, where energy companies are tapping the “unconventional” Bakken Shale. Two miles beneath North Dakota, and below parts of Montana …

Read More