An energy tale of two states

“There’s oil in them thar plains!” North Dakota has almost 4,000 oil wells, pumping about 129,000 barrels of oil a day. Oil prospectors in the state are reaping the benefits of $90-a-barrel prices. But is the state getting its fair share?

ABC’s Nightline is going to take a look at that question tonight. The state takes in around $19 million a month, according to the Associated Press. That’s a pretty small fraction of the money being made pulling oil out of the state’s oil patch.

A few years ago, MPR’s Dan Gunderson profiled the Upper Midwest’s best-kept energy secret.


Western North Dakota has large oil reserves. By some estimates, it has more oil than the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. A federal government geologist estimated a formation called the Bakken shale holds 400 billion barrels of oil.

Meanwhile, across the border — Minnesota — the talk is all about new energy, not old. Gov. Pawlenty this week proposed a statewide energy plan to make it easier for clean energy projects to move forward. It was a plan notable for the fact DFLers didn’t immediately criticize it.

And some legislators are trying to attract a big wind-energy company to move to Minnesota.

When it comes to the generation of wind energy, Minnesota is among the big states, trailing only Texas and California in wind-generated energy, according to figures released on Thursday.

No matter what sort of energy is used — in this case to generate electricity — something has to get it from point A to point B. And Minnesota can claim leadership in that area, too. According to Mr. Gunderson, new technology has been developed here that will make those giant power lines more efficient.

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