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Politics & Government

Bill Would Reduce Use Of Fresh Water For Fracking

While the American West grapples with drought, lack of water isn’t much of a concern in Pennsylvania.

Still, it’s a natural resource that is finite. A bill in Harrisburg aims to promote the use of treated coal mine water rather than fresh water for natural gas development.

“It’s going to recycle the treated water that comes from a coal mine, which would typically be pumped right back into a mine to hold it,” said the bill’s sponsor Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Washington/Greene). “It would also really reduce the use of fresh water in the fracking process.”

Some oil and gas developers already use this method, but Bartolotta said that confusion over liability has stopped others from using treated water. Senate Bill 875 would clear up the issue, she said.

“The treated water is the responsibility, the liability of the coal company – they treat it, it’s prepared and it’s ready. Once the gas industry takes possession of that, it’s in their liability. So it’s immediate, there’s no in-between, there’s no lag time (and) it’s instantaneous,” Bartolotta said.

This, she said, solves two issues -- both reducing the amount of fresh water used in fracking and keeping coal mine drainage water from being held in old mines or holding ponds, which environmental groups say can leak.

The bill is awaiting consideration by the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.