KCUR's new investigative show, Reveal, this weekend explores energy production in the United States.
Airing Sunday at 7 p.m., Reveal will look at how fracking has opened new realms of oil and gas production – and we’ll examine some of the complex consequences of so-called energy independence.
The recent oil boom in North Dakota – driven by hydraulic fracturing and advances in technology – is a big reason why the United States is now the world’s leader in combined oil and natural gas production.
But the boom in the Bakken shale, which stretches over North Dakota, Montana and parts of Canada, has made it one of the deadliest places for workers in the country.
Reveal reporter Jennifer Gollan headed to North Dakota to examine the story of one young man’s tragic death, exposing the dangers that oil workers face. Her investigation found that deeply entrenched corporate practices and weak federal oversight have inoculated major energy producers against responsibility when workers are killed or injured, while shifting the blame to others.
Only one energy operator that leases or owns wells has been cited for worker deaths in North Dakota or Montana over the past five years, Reveal’s analysis has found.
Oil companies offer financial incentives to workers for speeding up production – potentially jeopardizing their safety – and shield themselves through a web of companies to avoid paying the full cost of settlements with affected workers and their families when workers are injured or killed.
Continuing our look at energy production in the United States, we explore the history of hydraulic fracturing – aka fracking – in North Texas, where the technologies that are now employed in the Bakken were born.
Host Al Letson talks to Marketplace energy reporter Scott Tong about George Mitchell, a man many refer to as the father of fracking. Tong did a rare interview with Mitchell a few months before he died in 2013.
We’ll also hear from some of the geologists and engineers who made fracking financially viable – helping to turn America into one of the top energy producers in the world.
Harvest Public Media, based here at KCUR, has covered fracking in the Midwest since 2011.