See that cluster of lights by North Dakota? That’s the result of fracking. Six years ago that light cluster did not exist. The reason is over the past years natural gas extraction though the use of fracking has increased exponentially as a result of the push for alternative fuel use and technological achievements.
Fracking is the controversial method of extracting natural gas from shale rock using a chemical and water mixture. Depending on the methods used, some 29% of the gas being extracted can go to waste—or rather, into creating this light show.
That light cluster is fire of natural gas burning as companies work all night to extract resources from the Bakken formation under North Dakota; a place whose citizens now call the “Kuwait on the prairie”.
The natural gas rush has been so sudden that North Dakota now has the lowest unemployment rate in the country — more than 41,000 workers got jobs there between 2008 and 2012. Additionally, seven years ago, the U.S. was importing 60% of its oil. Now oil imports are down to 42%. The Bakken fields play a major role in this.
Natural gas is indeed making an impact, be it for better or for worse, and an impact that is now visible from space! The picture was taken by NASA’s Earth Observatory, which orbits the planet twice a day some 512 miles up.
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison