Nightly News | November 28, 2013
>>> back now with falling gas prices across the country down 49 cents a gallon from their peak this year. and when gas prices drop, consumes are more likely to use extra money to buy gifts. it is all being fueled by the american oil boom. we get our report tonight from nbc's harry smith , in an american boom town , chicashea, oklahoma.
>> reporter: meet harold hand, a sharecropper's son, a self-made billionaire. harold is bullish on american oil. how much oil is there in the united states ?
>> we are very fortunate. we have more than saudi arabia .
>> reporter: the united states has more oil than saudi arabia ?
>> yes, we do. yeah. by far.
>> reporter: harold is an oklahoman who controls more oil underground than any one else in the u.s.
>> held hostage for our oil supply for 40 years. all this was here. but we didn't have the technology to get it. but it is different, different age.
>> reporter: a different age indeed.
>> this is not your grandaddy's rig.
>> reporter: oil rigs run by joy sticks and software, fine tuned to find black gold and natural gas in places once impossible to reach. america is producing 50% more oil than just five years ago. almost 8 million barrels a day. and that is a big deal . a big deal for army veteran forest dire who couldn't find work in california. his starting job here on the oil rig pays more than $60,000 a year.
>> it's very good. for a guy like me with no college education , and, not many other prospects, it's about as the good as it gets really.
>> reporter: a big deal in towns like chickasha, where christie elkin says household income has jumped more than 25% in the last two years.
>> it has been a shot in the arm but also a door opening to possibilities and potential for our community.
>> reporter: and a big deal for american consumers who are seeing gasoline prices declean f -- decline for a change. oil that is accessible because of horizontal drilling and fracking. fracking that some have blamed for increased seismic activity and ruined waltter supplies. many environmental groups want a moratorium on fracking if not an all-out ban. but hand and others in the oil industry insist it is safe, and hand says all this new oil production has another benefit.
>> it means a great deal. we could be totally dependent on ourselves.
>> reporter: energy independence , imagine? harry smith , nbc news, chickasha, oklahoma.