The Senate approved a bill Wednesday permitting the Board of Oil and Gas Conservation to make rules allowing new technology for coal-bed methane extraction.
The process involves injecting chemicals into the ground to stimulate the microbial process that turns coal into natural gas.
Supporters said Wyoming is successfully using the new process, and it can increase the amount of gas taken out of a well by 60 to 80 percent.
But, opponents are concerned about the possible effects on water quality.
Senator Ron Erickson (D-Missoula) said there are too many unknown factors to pass the legislation.
“This idea needs study. I hope it works and it works well because clearly this nation can continue to use natural gas. But, we’re giving a power to a board that doesn’t yet know what’s happening,” he told the Senate during floor session.
The measure passed its second-reading on a vote of 31-16.