The fossil fuels-coal, oil, and natural gas-are essential in Minnesota. We use much fuel just to keep warm in winter. Automobiles need gasoline. Trucks and tractors run on diesel fuel. Of the energy consumed in the state, almost 45 percent derives from oil, about 23 percent is natural gas, and roughly 22 percent is coal, about five-sixths of which is used to produce electricity. Nuclear energy, used to produce electricity, makes up the remaining 10 percent of the state's energy consumption. Aside from the unknown potential of the vast peatlands of northern Minnesota, the state has no fossil fuels of its own, and all must be imported from outside the state. The need was acute even during the early days of statehood, when the problem was compounded by the lack of a year-round, reliable transportation network. Aggressive exploration by private individuals for fuel deposits that could be used locally did lead to the discovery of several small coal and natural gas deposits before the turn of the century. None of them, unfortunately, proved to be of commercial importance. Most of the natural gas discoveries in Minnesota were accidental. Many were spectacular. A few were tragic. Not one was profitable as a commercial venture. But the incentives are strong, and the search continues. Today, after millions of dollars have been invested in hundreds of wells, and after 100 years of frustration, what have Minnesotans learned? Not nearly enough is the answer that this history would suggest.
Educational Series 6. The Search for Oil and Gas in Minnesota.
Minnesota Geological Survey.
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