Typical acid mine drainage or mine influenced water causing severe environmental problems by releasing acid, iron and sulfate in large amounts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So, you have a dwindling supply of fresh water for drinking and for wildlife, you have large amounts of contaminated water from old mining operations that we don’t know what to do with and are really expensive to clean-up, and you have the need for large amounts of water for the dramatic increase in fracking operations that don’t need to use fresh or potable water but are presently using both fresh and potable water from these very dwindling supplies.
This looks to be an opportunity too good to pass up. Let’s use the mine water for fracking and stop using the precious fresh water. Sounds easy. And the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) is trying to do just that.
Based on a recommendation by Governor Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, the PADEP published a white paper in January detailing how the agency intends to review proposals from Oil & Gas drillers on using Mine Influenced Water (MIW) for drilling operations (PADEP white paper).
It remains to be seen if the policy is supported by environmental organizations and the Oil & Gas industry, but it should succeed as long as we can sort out the liability issues.…
Across the US, abandoned mines languish awaiting cleanup efforts – up to 500,000 of them. An estimated 40% of Western rivers are tainted with the toxic discharge of these sites. There are at least 7,300 abandoned mines across the state of Colorado alone. 450 of these are already known to be leeching toxins into surrounding watersheds, but no one has yet stepped up to make any cleanup effort.
Why? According a recent Denver Post article, community groups, mining companies, and even state agencies claim that by attempting cleanup they may incur legal liability under the Clean Water Act if they accidentally worsen the contamination — they fear they could be subject to federal prosecution for polluting waterways without a permit. Reassurances by the EPA that “good Samaritan” groups will be partially shielded from liability have done nothing to ease these worries. Without formal legislation offering protection, few will risk going forward with cleanup efforts.…