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Monday, January 24, 2022

New rules to cut oil, gas emissions seen as a step forward towards meeting climate goals

The new rules, approved by air quality regulators, are intended to keep the oil and gas industry on track to meet state-mandated cuts in emissions to cut pollution and address the effects of climate change.

The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission on Friday approved regulations that are seen as a major step forward in meeting the goals outlined in the state’s law. Environmental and community organizations have said the new rules could be a national example for other state and federal regulators to follow.

The regulations target emissions of methane, a potent heat-trapping gas, pollutants that build up to ground-level ozone, which creates haze along the front range and health problems.

Zorro Walker, general counsel for Western Resource Advocates, an environmental organization, said the commission’s large-scale adoption of the State Air Pollution Control Division’s proposal requires more frequent inspections of oil and gas sites, which reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in Colorado. Will go a long way to reduce it.

“With these rules, Colorado again sets the bar for what nation-leading methane protection should look like. These rules will ensure that approximately 12,000 small, leak-prone Every well, including wells, should be inspected, which can lead to heavy emissions.

New rules increase how often oil and gas sites must be inspected for leaks and emissions. Low yielding wells will now be inspected once in a lifetime, at least annually.

High yielding wells will be inspected half-yearly instead of annual inspection and others will move from quarterly to bi-monthly. Leaks in disproportionately affected communities should be fixed in five days.

Industry representatives questioned the need for more frequent inspections, saying that the process was delayed as new proposals were added, not allowing sufficient time to assess the impacts.

“Proven innovation and commitment by Colorado’s oil and natural gas workers will make these rules work, but make no mistake, the adopted rules will still add $140 million a year to the cost of doing business, according to state estimates.” Dan Haley, CEO and President of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, said in a statement.

The new rules are also a response to a 2021 law requiring special attention to emissions and pollution in communities that have been disproportionately affected by oil and gas operations. Communities are often in low-income areas and have higher populations of people of color.

The commission faced a January 1 deadline to pass rules directing the oil and gas industry to cut emissions by at least 26% by 2025 and 60% by 2030, based on 2005 levels. Most agree that the industry is on track to meet the 2025 target, but more is needed to realize the next objective.

To help achieve the 2030 target, state regulators proposed an approach that combines more direct regulations and called an intensification program, which allows companies to come up with a plan to further reduce emissions. gives instructions. Some organizations, including members of the Environmental Justice Coalition, argued against granting exemptions to oil and gas operators to formulate their plans.

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