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Coalbed methane
Coal-bed methane

"Estimates of the in-place gas resources of the principal coal-bearing basins of the United States exceed 700 trillion cubic feet. Economically recoverable resources of coalbed gas are probably less than 100 Tcf. This represents about a 5-year supply at current U.S. consumption rates. The Appalachian, Black Warrior, and Illinois basins (shown in red) emit significant quantities of methane to the atmosphere as a result of underground mining."

Coal-bed methane extraction (CBM) is the process of extracting methane (natural gas) from the water in or near a coal bed. This process is being used in Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado where extensive coal beds are available for exploitation. The process is controversial because it involves pumping of large amounts of ground water which, as it may be salty or otherwise contaminated, creates a disposal problem. This may affect the land owner, who often, in the United States, does not own the mineral rights under their land and cannot prevent or control drilling.[1]

A court action by private parties in Wyoming to require the Wyoming State Engineer's Office and the Wyoming Board of Control to regulate the water produced by coal-bed methane extraction in the Power River Basin was dismissed in 2008 with the court apparently holding that while the court had the power to address the constitutional issues involved the matter was a matter of general public interest which properly ought to be addressed by the legislature. Problems cited seem to have included both wells going dry and local flooding.[2]

Using a well to extract coal bed methane (CBM) has been ruled a beneficial use in Wyoming and requires issuance of a well permit. Such wells are administered on the basis of prior appropriation.[3]


  1. "Candy Magnate Loses Bid to Bar Drilling on Ranch" article by Jim Robbins in The New York Times January 10, 2008
  2. "Judge tosses water lawsuit" article by Dustin Bleizeffer on the website Trib.Com the website of the Casper Star-Tribune Monday, June 23, 2008 2:07 AM MDT archived on Wikinfo
  3. "guidance in properly permitting Coal Bed Methane (CBM) wells with the Wyoming State Engineer’s Office (SEO) – Ground Water Division

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