The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has issued interim final guidelines for coal operators and natural gas producers working near one another in the state.
The guidelines published Saturday in the Pennsylvania Bulletin are in effect during a public comment period that ends Jan. 31. Required by legislation passed in 2011, the updated guidelines were developed to better facilitate inactivating and reentering producing unconventional wells in areas where longwall coal mining is taking place.
While coal mining and natural gas production have long co-existed throughout the state, gas extraction has increasingly intersected with mining operations as producers continue to develop shale formations.
The DEP said coal companies and unconventional well operators should follow the guidelines for developing methods of operating wells near coal seams. The guidelines also are recommended to maintain long-term stability of the coal mine pillars left in place to support a mine and protect against natural gas well drilling.
The guidelines are to better allow for the “continuous isolation of gas from workable coal seams,” protect mining personnel and prevent water pollution, the DEP’s notice said.