New satellite technology has yielded a stunning new set of views of the Earth at night. And a surprise — in North Dakota, near the Canadian border, there is a bright spot. It’s not a city. It wasn’t there six years ago. It, too, is new. You’ll see it in the video below as the US comes into view.
Recently, NPR explained the source of this mysterious and large cluster of lights on the otherwise empty prairies of North Dakota — new oil fields created by fracking technologies. As Robert Krulwich writes:
This oil rush is so sudden, so enormous, North Dakota now has the lowest unemployment rate in the country. More than 41,000 workers got jobs there between 2008 and 2012. Only seven years ago, the U.S. was importing 60 percent of its oil. Now imports are down to 42 percent.
The wells are here:
Some of the lights are from drilling pads and platforms, but the majority of the light comes from natural gas being vented and flared off as a byproduct of the oil extraction process. According to one source, drillers “burn off enough gas to heat half a million homes.” Or, as Krulwich writes:
There are now so many gas wells burning fires in the North Dakota night, the fracking fields can be seen from deep space.
Happy Fracking Friday!