The root of the problem existing between the energy industry and landowners in the Powder River Basin, is that all water is not created equal – not where ranchers depend on natural runoff from storm events, and many fear the salt-laden waters released by the coal-bed methane developments across the basin.
Everyone wants natural water, but residents are deeply divided on whether CBM water is useful or ruinous. CBM water is pumped away from the famous coal beds of the Powder River Basin, releasing methane gas that can then be captured by drillers. According to soil scientists, the complex chemical interactions between CBM water and soils can change dramatically within a drainage, whereby one landower realizes beneficial use of CBM water and his downstream neighbor can be ruined.
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