Watch: John Oliver takes on ND oil companies, says they 'need to be held accountable'


North Dakota was the subject John Oliver's HBO show "Last Week Tonight" Sunday, with the host arguing the state has been a little too polite to oil companies.

"North Dakota, please listen: I get it, you're friendly, and that's fantastic," Oliver said, according to The Week. "But this has gone too far. Oil companies need to be held accountable when bad things happen."

Oliver devoted nearly 20 minutes of his show to the dark side of the state's oil boom, highlighting oil spills and environmental damage, as well as lax regulations – comparing North Dakota to "a magical utopia like Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, which come to think of it had about the same safety record as North Dakota's oil fields."

Watch the clip below. (Warning: there's some NSFW language.)


Oliver also spoke about the dangers on the Bakken oil field, including the disconcerting number of deaths, saying: "A death every six weeks is what you do to keep your soap opera on the air."

This summer, PBS' NewsHour reported that at least 74 people have died working on the Bakken oil fields since 2006.

"And major oil companies, which have most profited from the boom, often evade accountability when accidents happen," the article says.

So Oliver is asking people in North Dakota to "be angry (please)" – he even bought billboards along the highway in the state with the request.

Wrote Politico in June: "Workers Are Paying for Cheap Gas With Their Lives."

The oil boom has been an economic boon to North Dakota in recent years – but low crude oil prices have dealt heavy blows to the state budget.

State lawmakers were told general fund tax revenues fell $41.7 million short of projections in July and August, the Grand Forks Herald reported, with individual income tax collections $7 million below projections.

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