The boom in shale oil and gas exploration in North Dakota during the Bush and Obama presidencies has transformed the state, satellite imagery shows. This composite image from the National Geophysical Data Center combines nighttime satellite imagery from 1992, 2000, and 2010. Places that had lots of light in all three years show up bright white. The red area in North Dakota — home of the shale boom changing America’s energy politics and physical landscape — shows the bright lights of drilling in 2010 where it was was dark in 2000 and 1992:
The SkyTruth blog explains why shale gas fracking in North Dakota is so bright at night:
So why is this area all lit up at night? Well, the rigs and other facilities are highly illuminated because drilling is a 24/7 proposition – time is money so there is no “down time.” But there is another reason too: operators in this oil field are flaring off large quantities of natural gas. That’s right, burning it off as a hazardous nuisance. Meanwhile some folks on the campaign trail and on Capitol Hill complain loudly that environmental rules and government policies are limiting industry’s access to more public lands throughout America so they can drill for – you got it – natural gas. Despite the fact that industry is already sitting on thousands of approved drilling permits that remain idle, and millions of acres of leases they aren’t developing.