Wyoming Ranchers win dispute over CBM discharge water

One of the biggest local concerns from the Methane Gas Industry in Las Animas County is not just the millions of gallons of water that is removed from the ground it is also the quality of this water. Much of this water is “disposed of” on our county roads as “dust control” and it drys up quickly here but that water has salts and maybe large amounts of total dissolved solids that then wash down into those properties bordering the county roads damaging their crops and soil. At least some western states are taking a stand to stop this unfortunately here in Las Animas county only a hand full of residents are fighting this and they need help….check out this story from our neighboring state of Wyoming.

The Wyoming Environmental Quality Council has sided with a ranching couple who contested a discharge permit for coalbed methane water that was issued by the state.

A landowner group says the ruling could have important implications for Wyoming’s large coalbed methane industry, though state officials expressed doubt that Thursday’s vote would have a wide-ranging effect.

The council sided 4-2 with Marge and Bill West, who contested a permit held by Stephens Energy Co. The Wests have lost 100 acres of haymeadow and 200 cottonwood trees because of salt buildup from coalbed methane water flowing across their Powder River Basin property, said the couple’s attorney, Kate Fox, of Cheyenne.

The Wests argued that the state Department of Environmental Quality issued the permit last year using rules since criticized as unscientific by the Environmental Protection Agency and by consultants for the state.

About 170 of the 1,000 or so active water discharge permits in the Powder River Basin have been granted under the rules. Thursday’s ruling in theory could open the way for more permits to be contested.


Any appeal from the Environmental Quality Council would go to District Court.

Coalbed methane wells pump water out of saturated coal deposits, depressurizing the groundwater not unlike opening a soda bottle. Methane gas condenses out of the groundwater and is pumped out.

Millions of gallons of byproduct groundwater has been discharged on the surface in the Powder River Basin, which as of 2008 ranked as the nation’s 16th most productive gas area.

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