Technology to Create New Water Source for Marcellus Operators

The liability protections to encourage the oil and gas industry to use acid mine drainage water was among recommendations made in 2011 by Pennsylvania State Gov. John Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission.

“One of the major reasons the oil and gas industry has not fully committed to utilizing acid mine drainage water is the concern with the old adage ‘once you touch it, you own it’. The cost of treatment, and the continued liability associated with acid mine drainage source can often run into the millions of dollars,” according to a Dec. 6, 2012 memorandum by Senator Richard A. Kasunic (32nd District), who authored the bill.

Acid mine drainage projects eligible for coverage would be vetted through a DEP process developed in the Environmental Good Samaritan Act.  

The immunity would only extend to activities at the site of the discharge, not to subsequent uses of the water, according to a March 15, 2013 Senate memo from Kasunic, Sen. Gene Yaw (23rd District) and Sen. John T. Yudichak, (14th District). The memo addressed concerns raised by some groups over the bill’s intent.

“The current Good Samaritan Act falls short in that it only limits the liability of a non-profit organization that is treating acid mine drainage, without any financial incentive,” the memo stated. “Unfortunately with today’s economy, non-profits are finding it increasingly difficult to assist in treating the 5,000 miles of streams that are currently polluted with acid mine drainage. Senate Bill 411 offers non-profits the opportunity to partner with entities to address the funding challenges they are facing.”

Acid mine drainage is the state’s large source of water pollution, with an estimated cleanup cost that may exceed $15 billion.

“As state and federal resources towards the treatment of acid mine drainage continue to decline, Senate Bill 411 offers an innovative approach to maintaining funding for its cleanup, while at the same time decreasing the withdrawal demand on fresh water supplies. This is a win-win situation for the Commonwealth and the environment.”


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