Originally published on Fri December 2, 2011 9:30 am
Austin Mitchell walks away from an oil derrick outside Williston, N.D. With what many are calling the largest oil boom in recent North American history, temporary camps to house the huge influx of workers now dot the sparse North Dakota landscape.
The tough economy has taken its toll on most states, putting budgets deep in the red and putting people out of work.
But North Dakota has a low 3.5 percent unemployment rate and a state budget with a billion dollar surplus. That's because of a major oil boom in the western part of the state, a discovery of at least 2 billion barrels to be gained by fracking — the controversial process of injecting fluid deep into underground rock formations to force the oil out.
The Colorado Springs city council has unanimously passed an emergency ordinance banning oil and gas drilling while officials review whether existing laws need to be tightened to protect groundwater and other resources.
Weld County and many of its communities are enjoying a windfall thanks to the oil-and-gas boom over the last couple years. KUNC’s Erin O’Toole talks with Jeff Nuttall, publisher of the Northern Colorado Business Report, about some of the impacts from the boom.
Northeastern Colorado is fast becoming the site of one of the country’s next big oil booms as new technologies surrounding hydraulic fracturing are allowing companies to get a piece of the Niobrara Shale. Previously deemed too expensive to drill, the Niobrara formation that extends from beneath Denver all the way to western Nebraska is thought to hold more than a billion barrels of oil. The only trouble is much of the land atop it is home to one of the country’s fastest growing regions.