DEP Releases Final White Paper on Using Mine Water for Drilling

HARRISBURG – The Department of Environmental Protection has announced it has finalized the process it will use for encouraging and reviewing proposals to use mine-influenced water, such as acid mine drainage, in oil and gas operations. The process is outlined in a white paper released by the agency.

“Abandoned mines present Pennsylvania with one of its biggest environmental challenges,” DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said. “This initiative, which combines remediating abandoned mine water with responsible extraction of our natural gas resources, is a win for our environment and our economy.”

The white paper, available on DEP’s Web site, outlines the process to submit proposals and how agency staff will review the proposals to use mine-influenced water in drilling operations. It also identifies possible storage options for the water and describes potential solutions to long-term liability issues. Proposals to use mine-influenced water must include sampling and characterization of the water, as well as details about how the water will be transported, stored and used.

DEP has also developed lists of major mine discharges in the state that it is encouraging operators consider first, but the agency will review proposals for using water from any mine discharge in Pennsylvania. Operators must follow all applicable environmental laws and regulations when treating, using, storing and moving the water.

DEP is also encouraging interested parties to work with non-profit organizations and watershed associations that operate mine water treatment plants and to consider creating or supplementing existing trust funds for long-term treatment of mine-influenced water.

The agency developed the white paper after discussing throughout 2012 a draft version with stakeholder groups from across the state.

More than 300 million gallons of water is discharged from mines into Pennsylvania’s waterways every day. Such water has impaired more than 5,500 miles of rivers and streams in the state.

In 2011, the Governor’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission included among its recommendations encouraging the use of non-freshwater sources in drilling operations.

For more information and to view the white paper, list of major discharges and other information, visit www.dep.state.pa.us and click “Mining” then “Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation.”

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