The Trump Files: When Donald Struck Oil on the Upper West Side

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This post was originally published as part of “The Trump Files“—a collection of telling episodes, strange but true stories, and curious scenes from the life of our current president—on July 18, 2016.

Donald Trump, oil tycoon? That’s what it sounded like in 1985, when Trump announced he had struck oil on a sprawling vacant lot he owned on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

”Isn’t it amazing?” Mr. Trump told the New York Times. “It’s a classic major oil find in Manhattan.”

Not quite. The oil wasn’t from an ancient crude deposit hiding beneath the city. It was actually spilled and leaked leftovers. The property used to be a rail yard. “The bulk of the find is No. 2 diesel oil for locomotives,” the Times pointed out.

New York environmental officials estimated there were perhaps 100,000 gallons of oil on the property. That’s enough for 2,380 barrels—about 0.0003 percent of what the United States now produces in a day. But that didn’t seem to dampen Donald’s enthusiasm. He claimed he was already getting calls from Texan oil barons about his huge find. “We could be pumping here for years,” he insisted.

 

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Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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