Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mysterious Lights in North Dakota

This is interesting. It's a time-lapse sequence from the space station over several night-time overflights of the planet.

It goes by so quickly that you can't quite make out exactly where you are at any given time. Given that, you are likely to miss that there is something very odd that shows up in western North Dakota, a cluster of lights that doesn't belong there. And that wasn't there six years ago.

Look at the upper left corner of that picture. That looks like a city larger than Chicago out there in the flat plains farmland of ... North Dakota?. What the fuck?

It turns out that it's not a new city after all. It's fracking oil wells, with the natural gas being burnt off. Burnt off. Oil companies exploiting the Bakken Shales by fracking are allowed to just burn off the natural gas that comes up along with the oil. Some locals call it "Kuwait on the Prairie".

NPR has the whole story and it's not a pretty one...


Sarge said...

I just talked with a oil man yesterday - not a geologist, but close, he claimed. He said that fracking was safe.
I wonder?
But, here it is - Whatever it takes, it is past time to tell the Arabs and Chavez to kiss our asses and not buy their oil.
And, why are we still importing oil when we are exporting the stuff?


Farnsworth68 said...

I'm still unconvinced that it's "safe". That aside, they are so wasteful that they can with reckless abandon just burn off the collateral natural gas.
Good point about the exports. But Big Oil is international, and little things like borders and economies mean nothing to them.
--The F Man

double nickel said...

Fracking is most certainly not safe for the environment. Pumping chemicals into the ground can and does poison wells, aquifers etc. It also allows natural gas to escape into underground fissures. I've read reports of ranchers in Alberta being able to ignite whatever it is that's coming through their kitchen faucets.I drove though this area of North Dakota last fall. The amount of activity the is overwhelming, and changing the social structure of the area along with the geography. It ain't pretty.