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Briefs -- Shell Cracker, Coal Water

After more than a year of review, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has issued Shell Chemical Appalachia LLC a key air permit for its proposed multi-billion dollar ethane cracker. Shell filed its 715-page air permit application in May 2014 (see Daily GPIAug. 5, 2014). DEP said in March that it had reached its "intent-to-issue" phase and announced Monday that the permit has been approved and issued (see Shale DailyMarch 30). Last week, Shell completed the purchase of land in western Pennsylvania where it tentatively plans to build the facility pending a final investment decision (see Shale DailyJune 18). The air permit was considered key to that process given the facility's likely size and its classification as a major new source of emissions. The company also received other state permits Monday, including stormwater discharge, water obstruction and encroachment permits.

A bill that would limit the liabilities for any oil and natural gas producer that uses treated coal mine water to drill and stimulate their wells has passed the Pennsylvania Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. SB 875, introduced by Republican state Sen. Camera Bartolotta now heads to the full Senate for a vote (see Shale DailyJune 5). In recent years, the state has been pushing the use of acid coal mine drainage for horizontal hydraulic fracturing. Bills similar to Bartolotta's have failed in the past, however. SB 875 addresses the use of treated coal mine water in impoundment ponds. It would limit a driller's liability to only the water it takes from those ponds.

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