Watch Six Months of Fracking Fires Blaze Across the Country

Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com

Massive fires light up the sky in U.S. states at the center of a fracking boom.

The fires—known as flaring—are a symptom of the rapid spread of the controversial drilling technique. Cities and towns across the country are scrambling to keep up with a newfound surplus of natural gas, and towering flames arise when excess gas is burned off at drill sites. 

Now, one environmentally minded organization has created a tool to track where the fires are taking place. The heat map below—created by the nonprofit SkyTruth—shows a time-lapse of flaring across the U.S. over a six-month period from March to August. 

Most of the flaring on U.S. soil currently takes place in North Dakota and Texas due to oil and gas drilling operations in the Bakken and Eagle Ford shale formations, respectively. Widespread flaring also crops up in Pennsylvania, where energy companies extract a huge amount of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale.

Fossil fuel producers say flaring is nearly impossible to avoid, because the infrastructure needed to transport gas and oil is severely lacking in many states so they are forced to burn off the overflow. But green groups warn that the fires release greenhouse gases and waste energy.

According to a report by environmental advocacy group Earthworks released Friday, flaring has dramatically increased in both the Bakken and Eagle Ford shale in recent years.

"In 2010, oil and natural gas wells in the Bakken flared about 18 billion cubic feet of gas. In 2013, they flared 96 billion cubic feet, almost all of it from oil wells," the report states. 

Texas, meanwhile, flared 2 billion cubic feet of gas from oil and natural-gas wells in the Eagle Ford in 2010. In 2013, 34 billion cubic feet of gas had been flared. 

For the sake of context: "The amount of gas flared is so large, especially in the Bakken, that it compares favorably with the volume of gas produced for use from shale gas formations in other states," the authors note. 

SkyTruth created the visualization using satellite data collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The GIF above advances in 10-day intervals starting on March 17 and ending on Aug. 20, using 29-day composite data from detected flares.  

To view the map with real-time updates and see flaring in both the U.S. and the rest of the world, click here.

(Top image via Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com )

NEWSLETTER

Get daily news from Route Fifty

Top stories on how innovation is driving smarter government across the country.

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.