EPA Unhappy With DEQ's Water Policy for the Cowboy State

Lander, WY (WYNS) - The Environmental Protection Agency has weighed in on state water policy regulating groundwater pumped up during coalbed methane production, and the EPA says it appears the state is not following Clean Water Act law. The federal agency takes issue with the case-by-case approach of the state Department of Environmental Quality on whether it's acceptable to dump the water on the surface.

Steve Jones with the Wyoming Outdoor Council says the bottom line is that because the water can have high salinity levels or other impurities, it can damage any land it touches, whether directly or downstream.

Jones says the state DEQ should go back to the drawing board because it has struggled with writing regulations for the discharged water. A recent set of proposed rules were scrapped after an independent report called them "scientifically indefensible," so now, it's back to the old policy, which Jones says is still inconsistent.

Most coalbed methane operations are in the Powder River Basin. Some landowners say they welcome the discharged water for their property, and the industry argues that most of the water pumped is potentially beneficial.

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