A U.S. Geological Survey study shows that coalbed methane development has changed the chemistry of the surface water in parts of the Powder River. CBM wastewater was often discharged directly or indirectly into the stream.
The study analyzed three decades of data and determined that after extraction activities, the water contained more sodium and bicarbonate, which are compounds commonly found in CBM wastewater.
Report author Steve Sando says high sodium levels can be bad for irrigation, but he says the concentrations in the Powder River are not alarmingly high.
Luca Technologies, a Colorado-based biotechnology company focused on extracting natural gas from coal seams in Wyoming, has declared bankruptcy.
Luca began testing their “methane farming” method in the Powder River basin in 2006. Since then, they have faced regulatory and financial difficulties which have resulted in permitting delays, layoffs, and now, finally Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Methane farming generates natural gas by feeding nutrients to microbes in coal beds.
A new report by the U.S. Geological Survey finds that coal-bed natural gas production can affect water quality in nearby streams.
The study monitored water quality over a ten-year period in Wyoming and Montana, and found that in places like the Powder River, sodium levels increased. Other test sites showed little or no change in water quality.
Report author Melanie Clark says the changes occur because water that’s extracted during gas production sometimes flows into the streams and rivers.
But she says the additional sodium in the water isn’t particularly worrisome.