WPR News
7:17 am
Thu December 27, 2007

Coal-bed methane negotiations revived between MT, WY

Billings, MT – Officials from Montana and Wyoming are revisiting the terms of a proposed agreement between the two states, in a lawsuit over water discharged by the coal-bed methane industry.

One Montana official says the sides are trying to resolve what restrictions on coal-bed methane water should apply, to a pair of tributaries along the Tongue River.

Those tributaries and the Tongue and Powder rivers flow into Montana from Wyoming, which has seen extensive coal-bed methane development in recent years.

At issue is water pumped out of underground aquifers, by companies seeking to free trapped methane. The discharged water is high in salts, that can damage crops and ruin irrigated soils.

To prevent the water from harming downstream ranches and farms, Montana adopted strict new water quality standards. Several companies sued, and Wyoming later joined them, saying the standards threatened to slow development.