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Meridian Institute

Wyoming Coal Bed Methane Watershed Planning Effort

Related: Climate Change and Energy, Environment and Natural Resources

Meridian Institute facilitated two pilot watershed planning efforts on behalf of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to address issues associated with coal bed methane (CBM) development in the Powder River and Tongue River basins in Wyoming.

In the process of depressurizing a coal seam so that CBM can rise to the surface, significant amounts of water are also often discharged to the surface. Using a watershed-based permitting approach, the DEQ sought to bring all interested stakeholders to the table early in the process to determine the most appropriate and beneficial water management strategy for a sub-watershed, so that discharged water from CBM production could be used in the most environmentally friendly and beneficial manner.

As facilitator of these planning efforts, Meridian worked to promote the involvement of all stakeholders in the development of this holistic water management approach. Participants included, for example, representatives from the coal bed methane industry, private landowners (including ranchers), state and federal government officials, and representatives of environmental and trade NGOs. This project drew from the experience of several related Meridian projects, including the Coal Bed Methane Best Management Practices Handbook (with the Western Governors’ Association) and numerous community-based watershed projects in the West.


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