Fractured Land : The Price of Inheriting Oil


What does an environmentalist do when she realizes she will inherit mineral rights and royalties on fracked oil wells in North Dakota?

How does she decide between financial security and living as a committed conservationist who wants to leave her grandchildren a healthy world?

Lisa Westberg Peters, Minnesota Historical Society Press, October 2014.
240 pages, ISBN: 9780873519526.

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Fractured Land recounts an environmentalist’s journey into the heart of the oil boom, North Dakota, and her family’s oil-soaked history. It is filled with sharply observed ironies and surprising insights. This is a gutsy book.
Russell Gold, energy reporter for the Wall Street Journal and author of The Boom.

Most of us have them, those conflicted feelings stemming from the knowledge that many of our creature comforts — our cars, our warm homes, our ability to jump on a plane and be in Mexico by dinnertime — are tied directly to our reliance on oil, which we know to be wrecking our environment with startling haste. It’s the moral dilemma of our age…It’s a great feat of storytelling she’s accomplished here, one that manages to be incredibly timely and timeless at once.  
(Minneapolis) Star Tribune

 Peters, the author of “Fractured Land: The Price of Inheriting Oil” (Minnesota Historical Society Press), lives in Minneapolis. But she’s as complicit in the Williston, North Dakota, oil boom — and in climate change, groundwater contamination, destruction of farmland, sex trafficking, displacement of longtime residents, noise and pollution, and the whole complicated mess — as any of us are who depend on fossil fuels for transportation, food, and services. Maybe even a little more, because unlike most Minnesotans and North Dakotans, she’s in line to inherit mineral rights and oil royalties, due to her grandfather’s decision in the 1940s to buy land in North Dakota. And for a self-described environmentalist, that’s a complicated legacy.
Minnpost interview with Amy Goetzman, November 10, 2014

When I started investigating my family’s history, I discovered all kinds of calamities –death: my great-great-grandmother died in childbirth just before they reached their homestead site, my grandfather’s entire first family died of infectious diseases, he suffered bankruptcy, he suffered foreclosures. There was calamity after calamity, my father was malnourished, so when my grandfather finally did succeed in signing his first oil lease, it made me realize — I’m part of this family that has suffered so much, and now they’ve accomplished this success of sorts on the Great Plains and that makes it even harder.  For me, it makes the whole story more human.
–excerpt from Minnesota Public Radio Daily Circuit interview with Tom Weber, September 29, 2014