George Mitchell, Georgia, Russell discussed on Boomtown
It's clear that George wanted to leave a legacy beyond being known as the father of fracking. But it's less clear what his legacy. The actually is in George's later years after his wife Cynthia died in two thousand nine. He left the woodland's moved back to his boyhood town of Galveston. He lived for a time in the tournament house a hotel that he and Cynthia had bought in the early eighties as part of the historic preservation. Program that your mom continued to operate eight is a working hotel. Even as George lived there you know they had reserved tables in the restaurant and in the lobby and he would come down from his sweet and just sort of sit there in the lobby and You know the time was their former governor mark white just happened to be coming through Galveston and came up and said hello to him and they chatted for a few minutes. That's Russell missile gold a senior energy reporter for the Wall Street Journal. Russell is the author of two books including the boom. How fracking ignited the American Energy Revolution? Shen and changed the world. Russell met George at the hotel a few years before George died he was kind of enjoying the the the sunset of his life Just Holding Court In in the lobby of tremont hotel in downtown Galveston and it wasn't just governors. You know anyone who came by he you would try to engage with them and talk with them and you sitting there and his He had a little Motorized wheelchair of sorts and remember it had a bumper sticker on it right Say Informing everyone that he was he was nagy. There were certain things he would engage with certain stories. You would love to tell but there were certain things when you really kind of tried to drill down and try to understand a little bit about what he thought of his legacy and unleashing so much new oil and gas drilling in the United States dates and elsewhere That he didn't want to engage with He my sense was he had closed the book on that and and didn't WanNa talk about it anymore. This is part part of what came to be known as the Mitchell Paradox. Here's Lauren Steffi Ya son Todd Actually dubbed at the Mitchell Paradox And while while nobody remembers George actually talking about it in fact even when he was asked about it he would just kind of wouldn't answer He had two parts of his life. He had the business part he had the Mitchell energy part where he was drilling gas and figuring out ways to draw gas and then he had this other part and it wasn't listen just it wasn't just in in oil and gas. I mean here's someone who was genuinely worried about overpopulation. And he had ten kids You know it it there were just complexities to life. That that at the end of the day you you just. You couldn't resolve George's daughter. Meredith remembers giving him a hard time when he'd Fred about the planet's growing population. Oh Yeah we always taste about that. So what are you talking about this dad. You had ten kids. He said Yeah I know. Now I'm not gonNA worry about that. He just said it's true Georgia's life is filled with all sorts of contradictions. Plenty of people have pointed and out that Georgia's pleased for more regulation and more corporate responsibility really only intensified after he'd sold his business and after after he'd made his billions and that that concern about the environment did not spill over into his company and he did not create a company Benny Alternately and oil and gas company that showed us a new way of both getting oil and gas out of the ground while being an environmental steward. He showed us a new way to get oil and gas out off the ground and it really is left to to the current generation into new people to figure out how to be an environmental steward at the same time. In the mid nineties Georgia's Georgia's own company was marred and lawsuits over questionable drilling practices and water contamination. At one point Mitchell Energy and development lost a lawsuit route. There would have cost the company over two hundred million dollars. The case was later appealed and thrown out by the Texas Supreme Court but Russell says that the state still oh found. The Mitchell energy had quote deliberately misreported the way the company was building their wells. It stain his reputation. I've a lot of admirations for George Mitchell His legacy is one of being a stubborn inventor and someone who was willing to keep trying to do something because he I just had a a deep seated belief that he be able to fear out how to open up these incredibly thick rocks. And you know that's that's an incredible legacy and maybe do you know. Is it fair to also ask him to to have a second legacy of of being an environmental steward and figuring out how to oil and gas Production in an environmentally Faithful way for the future generations. That might be too much to ask anyone person He certainly failed in that. But Lauren on the other hand believes Georgia's legacy was much bigger than fracking. So I think that that ultimately when you take all of these things you know fracking sustainability. You know the the big science stuff you know what you see. His real legacy is a celebration of big ideas you know. He was a primary funder early on the giant Magellan Telescope. which you know when it comes online in a few years you know might just attacked you know intelligent life often the universe which would be kind of an interesting way to kappa a really unusual Legacies here's George's granddaughter. Catherine literally had had ten times every time you for the last twenty year life. If you can't make the world work with six billion people how you make her with nine billion people and what are you GonNa do about it and he would like what are you about. George believed the world needed to eventually move away from oil. Instead his technology she has helped make America into the largest oil producing country in the world. Despite this Lawrence Steffi says George would have been undaunted if he were still around I think he he was always an undying optimism. I mean that's kind of what drove him forward. was you know he didn't believe in some sort of dystopia future. I mean he really believe. We're GONNA figure all this out and in fact no less than Stephen Hawking at his memorial service said you know not many people can say they changed the world but George Mitchell was one of them. So that's from a guy who knows right.