Photo Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
There may be several reasons. Some do it to rid the pollutants in the gas. Others do it because you can't just turn a valve and shut off a oil or gas fracking well till you have a pipeline or storage units ready for it. (Yeah I know.. why didn't they think of that?)
Still there are others doing it for what I suspect is the main reason. The price for gas and oil has dropped to about a quarter of it's wholesale value over the last 4 or 5 years. Since they can't risk polluting their well by plugging it, they simply burn it off waiting for the prices to go up. In other words it's cheaper for them to waste it then sell it. It's also my opinion by 'flaring' it off and withholding these fuels from the market, these companies are trying to manipulate prices.
According to the "world Bank, about 140 billion cubic feet of natural gas were flared in 2011.
(the video is from 2007)
So here we have on one hand politicians shouting drill, baby drill in the hopes of achieving energy independence. While on the other hand "one field in North Dakota, the state leading the energy revolution, is now burning off enough gas to power all the homes in Chicago and Washington D.C. combined."
Which brings me to another bullshit argument. The Keystone XL pipeline. Do you know where the proposed Keystone Pipeline ends up?
Well I tell you. In "tax-free Foreign Trade Zones. where they can export refined products without paying U.S. duty taxes." Did you know we already export about 25% of the oil those refineries produce?
I'm not going to rattle on and on. You can check out those links for yourself. What I will say is,