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Friday, July 22, 2011

Oil, gas industry wants water ban overturned

The Pennsylvania oil and gas industry is asking a federal judge to overturn a federal ban on using surface and groundwater in the Allegheny National Forest to conduct hydraulic fracturing at Marcellus shale well sites there.

If the companies are forced to truck in municipal water, that will increase the lifetime operating cost of each well by about $1.5 million to $2 million, the industry motion says.

Erie attorney Matthew Wolford, one of the lawyers representing the industry, said the motion cites both Pennsylvania common law and the language of the deeds for some of the wells.

In the case of the two wells mentioned in the motion, the deeds for the mineral rights specifically mention that the mineral rights owners can use surrounding water for oil and gas drilling, he said. Even without that language, the state's common law gives mineral owners reasonable access to water, he said.

"In Pennsylvania, people don't own the water," he said. "Water is usable by a property owner for various things."