Fracking With Acid Mine Drainage Water?

  • Scott Detrow

In a Patriot-News op-ed, Peter Fontaine makes the case for using hydraulic fracturing to deal with an environmental hazard: acid mine drainage.
Fontaine argues drillers should use the water from mines in fracking. It’s a recommendation Governor Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission agreed with this summer. Language enabling drillers to utilize AMD liquid is also included in Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati’s impact fee bill.
Here’s the editorial:

Acidic drainage from these abandoned mines — called acid mine drainage or AMD — often has a pH below 5.0, which leaches heavy metals from surrounding rocks and kills fish and other aquatic species in its path.
AMD from historic coal mining has rendered more than 2,400 miles of Pennsylvania’s streams and waterways unusable and contaminated untold numbers of household drinking water wells. While the state spends about $19 million annually on abandoned mine reclamation, this modest effort is dwarfed by the magnitude of the environmental problem, which some estimate will cost $50 billion to fix.
To date, relatively few AMD areas have been remediated, because of cost, potential liability and a lack of meaningful economic incentives. But Marcellus Shale brings an exciting opportunity to finally tackle the state’s most intractable environmental problem.

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