Pennsylvania has a big problem with water seeping from abandoned coal mines—the water mixes with minerals from the mine and is highly acidic. Some 300 million gallons of it flow—every day—into Pennsylvania’s waterways, killing off fish and plant life in 4,000 miles of rivers and streams. The PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently launched a plan to encourage shale drillers in the state to use “mine influenced water” (MIW) for drilling and fracking operations. It kills two birds with one stone: it helps to get rid of MIW and it gives drillers a steady source of water for fracking (see PA DEP Finalizes Procedure for Using Acid Mine Water in Fracking).
Just one problem: Drillers are scared to death of “if you touch it, you own it for evermore.” That is, drillers are rightly concerned about liability in this day and age of litigate everything. Who wants to get sued for doing the right thing? What can PA do to reassure drillers to give MIW a shot?