MSC Supports RAND Conclusions on Use of Mine Water in Hydraulic Fracturing

Canonsburg, PA – Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) President Kathryn Z. Klaber today highlighted conclusions released this week by the RAND Corporation in support of the use of coal mine water in hydraulic fracturing operations in the Marcellus Shale and other regional shale plays in the Appalachian Basin.

The MSC commissioned RAND report follows a roundtable hosted by RAND in late 2011, at which researchers, hydraulic fracturing operators, industry representatives, the Western Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation, legal experts, and regulatory representatives from Pennsylvania and neighboring states addressed the feasibility of using mine water for drilling and hydraulic fracturing of shale gas wells.

Klaber issued the following statement on the study’s conclusions:

“The Marcellus Shale Coalition’s mission is underpinned by Guiding Principles that leverage innovation and environmental protection to promote responsible shale gas development in Pennsylvania and throughout our region.  The prospect of using mine water is just one more way that our industry is working to preserve water resources, reduce transportation and logistical burdens, and even more closely connect the economic and environmental benefits of American natural gas development.  Members of our coalition look forward to working with all stakeholders – from industry and environmental groups to academics and government officials – on policy initiatives that advance the use of this technology in a safe and sustainable manner.” 

Key findings outlined in the report, available here, include: 

  • The use of coal mine drainage for hydraulic fracturing activities is technically viable because the water source is abundant, many sites are close to drilling areas, and much of the water would require modest pre-treatment, if any.
  • Site-specific characteristics will determine the technical and economic viability of hydraulic fracturing with coal mine drainage.  Targeted research could clarify the feasibility of using this source from specific coal mines and at specific shale gas wells.
  • Existing laws and regulations may discourage the use of coal mine drainage for hydraulic fracturing.  However, any legal and regulatory changes intended to encourage this use  must be carefully considered.
  • The broader context of watershed quality in the region needs to be considered, and a permanent water remediation infrastructure needs to be established, in order to achieve a long-term remediation of coal mine drainage.

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