An idea that’s been floating “out there” for some time, at least in Pennsylvania, is for gas drillers to use acid mine water that flows from abandoned coal mines. It’s estimated there is some 300 million gallons per day of acid mine water—more than enough to frack every well drilled in PA each year. Last year, Gov. Tom Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission recommended that the state Department of Environmental Protection set up an approval process to make it happen—something now in the works.
But with drought conditions in some areas of the state, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission is going one step further than cheerleading and cajoling drillers—they’re now insisting that drillers use acid mine water.
The Susquehanna River Basin Commission, which permits drillers to withdraw water from within the Susquehanna’s watershed, began encouraging drillers to use acid mine drainage when fracturing by reducing or eliminating permit fees for "lesser-quality waters," including water contaminated by mining and public wastewater.
It has since gone a step further in requiring companies that apply to withdraw fresh water from sources close to mine water to explain as part of their applications why they are unwilling to use the mine water instead.
"They’re going to have to justify to us why they’re not using that impaired water," commission spokeswoman Susan Obleski said.*
*York (PA) Daily Record (May 7, 2012) – Pennsylvania’s acid mine water seen as drilling help