News Highlights


  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on October 23, 2011 a schedule to develop wastewater discharge standards for CBM and shale gas wells that use hydraulic fracturing (fracing) to extract natural gas. Drillers must meet these standards before sending the wastewater to treatment plants. The EPA will consider cost-effective, uniform national standards based on demonstrated, economically achievable technologies to reduce pollutants in these discharges. Plans are to solicit public comments on proposed rules for CBM in 2013 and shale gas in 2014. According to the EPA, the CBM schedule is shorter because extensive data and information has already been gathered in this area. For more information, link to: http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/lawsguidance/cwa/304m/ or http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9QG86OO0.htm.
     
  • The EPA issued a final rule on mandatory reporting of annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from four source categories on June 28, 2010 (CBM Extra Summer 2010.pdf, p. 1). These categories include owners and operators of underground coal mines (Subpart FF) that are under development, active (where coal is currently produced or produced within the previous 90 days), and mines that have operational pre-mining degasification systems. This Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program amends and implements the Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases Rule (Title 40 Code of Federal Regulations, part 98), published on October 30, 2009. Reporting includes emission data, calculation of GHG emissions, and specified procedures for quality assurance. This does not include coal suppliers, abandoned (closed) mines, surface mines, and post-mining activities. Annual monitoring began on January 1, 2011 and first reports are due to the EPA on March 31, 2012. This public data will provide a better understanding of GHG sources and guide development of the best possible policies and programs to reduce emissions. Click here for further information and see the latest EPA GHG developments.
     
  • Consol Energy, Inc. and Green Holdings Enlow, Inc. are partners in development of the largest emission abatement project of ventilation air methane (VAM) in the United States at Consol's Enlow Fork mine, Greene County. This is the first of many VAM abatement projects in anticipation of a strong, growing market for carbon offsets generated. The project is designed to reduce the mine's VAM emissions by 190,000 tCO2e (tons carbon dioxide equivalent) (CBM Extra_Spring_2010.pdf, p. 6). 

    Consol Energy has successfully demonstrated the generation of electricity using a microturbine fueled by raw CBM from its Bailey mine in Greene County in partnership with CNX Gas Corporation, LLC and Ingersoll Rand Energy Systems. CBM-fired microturbines can help meet the growing demand for electricity using clean power technologies and also help control the emissions of this potent greenhouse gas (CBM Extra Spring 2007.pdf, p. 2-3).
     
  • The North American Coalbed Methane Forum observed its 25th Anniversary with a special two-day meeting on April 28-29, 2010 at the Hilton Garden Inn Pittsburgh/Southpointe in Canonsburg, PA. For additional information, see http://www.nacbmforum.com/conference.html.
     
  • Former Governor Rendell signed into law on February 1, 2010 legislation to create a review board for disputes between landowners who own surface rights and do not have an interest in the subsurface estate, and CBM developers. These common disputes include locations of CBM wells and access roads on properties (York Daily Record/Sunday News, February 3, 2010). This new law (House Bill 1847 amends the Coal Refuse Disposal Control Act of September 24, 1968) establishes an alternative dispute resolution procedure to court action for considering landowner objections and modifies the review process of permit applications as needed. The three-member CBM Review Board will be appointed by the Governor from three lists submitted by the following: 1) Pennsylvania Farm Bureau; 2) Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Association, Independent Oil and Gas Association, and Pennsylvania Coal Association; and 3) Penn State University Colleges of Agricultural Sciences and Earth and Mineral Sciences (Practical Operator JanFeb2010.pdf, p. 3). For further information, please contact the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Bureau of Oil and Gas Management.
     

References

Hill, M.A., and Wolfe, R.S., 2010, EPA issues final rule for mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from four emissions sources: Environmental Law Update, July 2010, No. 2.

http://www.epa.gov/cmop/newsroom/domestic.html

http://www.nacbmforum.com/conference.html

The Practical Operator, January-February 2010, Governor signs coalbed methane dispute resolution bill, p. 3. 

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Spring 2007, EPA issues final rule on mandatory reporting of greenhouse gases from underground coal mines: Coalbed Methane Extra Outreach Program, Office of Air and Radiation, p. 2-3.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Spring 2010, CONSOL Energy in partnership to develop largest ventilation air methane abatement project in U.S.: Coalbed Methane Extra Outreach Program, Office of Air and Radiation, p. 6. 

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Summer 2010, EPA issues final rule on mandatory reporting of greenhouse gases from underground coal mines: Coalbed Methane Extra Outreach Program, Office of Air and Radiation, p. 1 and 4.

York Daily Record/Sunday News, York, PA, February 3, 2010.