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North Dakota and Fracking

In 2014, North Dakota was the second largest oil producing state in the U.S. But this boom has not lasted.

A decline in demand and falling oil prices have demonstrated the danger in investing too much in losing propositions like fossil fuels. Of the 192 active drilling rigs in Dickinson, ND in April 2014, only 94 were open one year later.

Fracking has exposed poor infrastructure in the state, which leads drillers to burn or “flare” much of the gas that can’t be captured or shipped. In just one month in 2014, gas wells burned 10.3 billion cubic feet of natural gas. This burning releases millions of metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change.

In 2012, burned gas added 4.5 million metric tons of CO2 to the atmosphere, which was roughly the equivalent of adding one million cars to U.S. highways.

Did You Know?

In early 2015, three million gallons of fracking wastewater gushed from a leaking pipeline in western North Dakota. State officials have described it as the worst spill since the beginning of the state’s fracking boom. The wastewater is 10 times saltier than the ocean and contains ammonium and radioactive elements.

The wastewater contaminated two creeks and eventually reached the Missouri River.

Last Updated: September 29, 2015

The Fracked Fact Quiz

In 2013, "flared" gas from wells on the plains was brighter than a city how many miles away?
A few miles.
Couple dozen of miles.
Hundreds of miles.
In North Dakota, natural gas can legally “flare” from a well for the first year of production. In 2013, 1,500 such fires illuminated the plains more brightly than the city of Minneapolis located hundreds of miles away.

For More Information:

The Fraccidents Map:

High profile incidents ("fraccidents") related to the country's oil and gas drilling boom have occurred in and around North Dakota. Click on each Fraccident icon. fraccident to learn more:

Fracking Across The United States: