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Wolf expected to sign mine water bill

HARRISBURG — A bill paving the way for use of treated mine water in gas drilling operations is on its way to Gov. Tom Wolf, who supports it.

The measure to limit liability held by gas drillers and mine operators when tapping acid mine drainage in mine pools won final passage Tuesday in the Senate on a 29-18 vote.

The measure could have a potential impact on improving water quality in the Lackawanna River and other waterways in Northeast Pennsylvania that have been affected for decades by acid mine drainage.

Withdrawing mine water from the Old Forge Bore Hole and two locations in the river’s watershed north of Carbondale could have environmental benefits, said Bernie McGurl, executive director of the Lackawanna River Corridor Association on Wednesday.

However, he said environmental concerns exist concerning any withdrawal of mine water from the river’s headwaters and in periods of low water flow.

The bill provides that a gas well operator is not liable for an ongoing abatement of mine water when acquiring treated water for his own operations and a mine operator is not liable for off-site use of treated water by a gas driller.

However, the bill doesn’t limit the liability held by an operator for unlawful spills or releases of treated mine water or relieves a mine operator or mine water user from their obligations under state law.

Mr. McGurl said it’s important that treated mine water be subject to state oil and gas regulations.

Sen. John Blake, D-22, Archbald, said he supported the bill as a way to reduce the impact of acid mine drainage on rivers.

In related news, gas producers partner with utilities to extend public water lines.

Contact the writer:

rswift@timesshamrock.com

This article was written by Robert Swift, from The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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