Coal Bed Methane Primer Page: 4 of 270
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During the second half of the 1990s Coal Bed Methane (CBM) production increased dramatically
to represent a significant new source of natural gas for many Western states. Matching these
soaring production rates during this period was a heightened public awareness of environmental
concerns. These concerns have created a significant growth in public involvement, which has
generated thousands of comments resulting in the inconsistent prioritization of concerns and
resources protection efforts. The accelerating interest in CBM development coupled with growth
in public involvement has prompted the creation of this CBM Primer.
The Primer is designed to serve as a summary document, which introduces and encapsulates
information pertinent to the development of CBM. The discussions focus on coal deposits,
methane as a naturally formed gas, split mineral ownership, development techniques, operational
issues, producing methods, applicable regulatory frameworks, land and resource management,
mitigation measures, preparation of project plans, data availability, Indian Trust issues and
relevant environmental technologies.
An important aspect of this CBM Primer involves the sharing of information with a broad array
of stakeholders, including land and mineral owners, regulators, conservationists, tribal
governments, special interest groups, and numerous others that could be affected by the
development of CBM within their vicinity. Perhaps the most crucial aspect of successfully
developing CBM resources and instituting appropriate environmental protection measures is
public awareness, information sharing, and acceptance.
The current image of CBM that exists is dependent on the stakeholders' perspective of energy
development versus environmental protection. There is significant diversity in the view points
expressed by nearly all stakeholders, including industry, government, special interest groups, and
land owners. The primer is designed to serve as an accessory to public discussions that will
contribute to policy making decisions by examining the current CBM development practices
throughout the Western U.S. and by discussing mitigation measures and more environmentally
friendly development methods from various CBM areas.
The Primer sections focus on the following areas:
Section 1 - What is CBM? How is it formed? Where does it come from? How is it developed?
This section provides the backdrop and circumstances for outlining the issues encompassing
CBM formation and production, including coal seams and how they originate; the general
location of CBM basins in the United States; the various development techniques, operational
issues and production methods used based on regional conditions; and the position CBM serves
in meeting our current and future national energy requirements.
Section 2 - Regulatory framework. This section addresses federal, state and local regulations
governing the development of CBM across the west; analyzes existing regulations guiding CBM
development, including regionally specific Plan of Development variances; identifies federal land
and resource management practices, Indian Trust Issues, surface owner agreements and local land
uses per region; and the state oil and gas programs including typical lease stipulations and field
Section 3 - Best Management Practices and Mitigation. Section three identifies the typical
environmental effects associated with CBM development in the west and the mitigation measures
employed to address these effects. Focus is on the results of production and distribution affecting
natural resources to local populations, and the tension between opposing land uses and land users.
Vital to this discussion are the potential effects of CBM extraction on water quality and quantity,
and the numerous mitigation measures employed to control and eliminate these effects.
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Arthur, Dan; Langhus, Bruce & Seekins, Jon. Coal Bed Methane Primer, report, May 25, 2005; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc878976/m1/4/: accessed October 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.