Environmental Issues and Challenges in Coal Bed Methane Production, Fisher, Berton J. , p.1 - 19, (2002)


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"...Environmental issues surrounding the development of CBM resources in the Powder River Basin and elsewhere have provoked conflict among mineral leaseholders, owners of the surface estates, and the public at large.

Citizen suits under the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act, and private tort actions, complicate the development of CBM resources. Despite geographic and geologic differences among areas in which CBM resources have been developed, the core environmental issues are consistent:

(1) Groundwater table drawdown due to pumping large quantities of groundwater.

(2) Disposal of large volumes of produced water.

(3) Methane contamination of shallow groundwater.

(4) Noise pollution from compressors and other sources.

(5) Air pollution from compressor exhaust gases, methane leakage, and dust.

(6) Surface disturbance from construction of roads, pipelines, and other facilities.

In CBM production, water is produced in large volumes and must be disposed of.

Because waters produced from coalbeds are often fresh, and subsurface disposal is expensive, disposal to surface drainages, wherever possible, carries a strong economic incentive.

Such disposal may erode soils and sediments, change microclimate, create unsustainable aquatic habitats, or salinize soils."

The Integrated Petroleum Environmental Consortium (IPEC) is a consortium of the University of Tulsa, the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University and the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.

Funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Research and Development, the mission of IPEC is to increase the competitiveness of the domestic petroleum industry through a reduction in the costs of compliance with U.S. environmental regulations.