Once it was mostly dark, but the ascent of the natural gas boom and hydraulic fracturing has turned a relatively empty part of the US prairie into a blaze of light visible from outer space.
NPR's Robert Krulwich writes about the development of North Dakota's Bakken formation where 29% of the natural gas is just flared off:
Six years ago, this region was close to empty. The few ranchers who lived here produced wheat, alfalfa, oats and corn. The U.S. Geological Survey knew there were oil deposits underground, but deep down, 2 miles below the surface. It wasn't till this century that the industry developed a way to pull that oil to the surface at a cost that made it practical. Fracking, as you probably know, means pumping water and chemicals down pipes, fracturing the rock, releasing the oil. The technology is hugely controversial, in part because of those lights.
Hat tip, Daily Dish