For the first time since 2008 global gas flaring has increased, the World Bank reports, with increased shale gas drilling in the United States (and in North Dakota in particular) cited as the reason for the increase.
Reuters notes that in 2011some 140 billion cubic feet of natural gas was burned on drilling sites, an increase of 2 billion cubic feet from the previous year. The increase brings the US into the top 10 gas flaring nations in the world.
How much gas is that? Enough to power Iraq's entire electrical grid.
And the emissions? The World Bank says it's roughly the same as France's annual carbon emissions, or about the same as the amount 70 million cars put out in a year.
In financial terms, all that gas is would about $100 billion.
Numerous studies have shown that because of methane leaks and gas flaring the carbon emissions of natural gas are notably higher than often claimed by the industry. Most recently, a study by the NRDC shows that total US methane emissions (that's from all sources, not just natural gas drilling) could be reduced by about one-third, simply by improving efficiency and stopping leaks.