Senate Bill Would Promote Use of Treated Mine Water in Fracking

Jun 28, 2015

Many natural gas drilling companies use treated water from abandoned coal mines for fracking, but that number is decreasing due to questions on liability issues, according to Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Greene, Washington).

Senate Bill 875, authored by Bartolotta, will allow drilling companies to use treated mine water without becoming responsible for the abandoned mines from which the water emanates. Approved by the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Monday, the legislation also, removes liability from the coal company for the water’s use after it is sold.

“My bill basically separates the liability from the coal mine with their treated water, and then the gas and oil company who buys that treated water,” she said.

In other words, the drilling companies will be responsible for the treated water once they purchase it from the coal companies. The coal companies will still be responsible for the mine and the water in it.

Passage of the bill would reduce the amount of fresh water used by drilling companies, according to Bartolotta.

“The oil and gas industry is drawing millions and millions of gallons of fresh water from our waterways, so this will save a resource and really help a lot in preventing our waterways from being depleted,” she said.

Bartolotta, whose district encompasses “the heart and soul of Pennsylvania’s coal and natural gas industries,” said she is constantly looking to benefit both industries.

“I think it’s a great marriage of the two, relieving a problem that the coal mines are having with trying to store all of this treated water, and then saving our natural resource of fresh water for the natural gas industry,” Bartolotta said. “So it’s really a win-win.”

She said her measure is different from Senate Bill 411, introduced by Sen. Richard Kasunic (D-Fayette, Somerset) last session, which proposed the use of untreated mine water for fracking. Instead, her bill only allows use of treated water, and also clarifies liability issues.

The bill was sent to the full Senate for consideration.