NPR logo

Fracking Pioneer Helped Boost U.S. Energy Independence

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/258169953/258169954" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Fracking Pioneer Helped Boost U.S. Energy Independence

Fracking Pioneer Helped Boost U.S. Energy Independence

Fracking Pioneer Helped Boost U.S. Energy Independence

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/258169953/258169954" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

George Mitchell, the "father of hydraulic fracturing," passed away earlier this year. NPR's Arun Rath speaks with Wall Street Journal reporter Russell Gold about Mitchell's invention and his somewhat progressive environmental views.

ARUN RATH, HOST:

Another man who changed the world without attaining celebrity status passed away this year. George Mitchell was a Texas oil and gas man who played a big part in creating America's growing energy independence, so frequently touted by politicians. Mitchell and his company pioneered the now controversial technique known as fracking.

RUSSELL GOLD: He was the one who proved that you could get gas out of shale.

RATH: Wall Street Journal reporter Russell Gold is author of an upcoming book on fracking.

GOLD: Before the breakthrough well in 1997, the United States was an energy pauper. It was an importer. It had just dregs left of oil and gas. That was the conventional wisdom. You know, you fast-forward almost 20 years now and the United States is a wash. It's - there's a glut of gas and an emerging glut of oil.

RATH: You know, obviously, there are a lot of people who are opposed to fracking, you know, for - because of concern for the environment. And they might be, you know, prone to think of Mitchell as kind of a villain. But he was actually - he was really big on the sustainability movement.

GOLD: He was enormously involved in sustainability. In the early 1970s, he ends up at a retreat where he meets Buckminster Fuller and falls under the sway of Buckminster Fuller. You know, this great...

RATH: Radical like innovative technological thinker...

GOLD: Very innovative forward thinker kind of created the idea of spaceship earth. You know, we have this one earth. You know, how do we preserve it? But interestingly enough, he never takes that into his business. He never invests in any renewable energy.

One of his sons calls it the Mitchell paradox. That he could never quite understand why Mitchell was so intellectually interested in sustainability but never wanted to take that into his corporation, and take the same stubborn approach that he did to figuring out how to frack and crack open shale rock to figuring out how to make renewables work better.

RATH: That's Wall Street Journal reporter Russell Gold, talking about fracking pioneer George Mitchell, who died this year at age 94.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.