Colorado Adopts Stronger Rules to Protect Health and Climate from Oil and Gas Pollution

EDF Statement from Matt Garrington, State Campaigns Manager, Energy

December 19, 2019
Matt McGee, (512) 691-3478,

(DENVER) Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) voted unanimously to adopt new rules to reduce harmful air and global warming pollution from oil and gas operations across the state.

“Today, the AQCC made important progress in protecting Colorado’s air and climate from pollution from the state’s oil and gas industry. As the Trump administration continues to attack federal methane regulations, Colorado’s leadership is more important than ever.”

Additional background

The strengthening provisions adopted today include the following requirements:

  • semiannual leak detection and repair for low-producing wells statewide,
  • stronger tank controls for low-producing wells,
  • expansion statewide of the “find and fix” program for malfunctioning controllers and valves known as “pneumatic” devices,
  • a ground-breaking performance based standard to reduce emissions across the transmission segment of the oil and gas supply chain, and
  • requirement that operators calculate and report all pollution, including methane emissions, to the state on an annual basis.

In 2014, Colorado became the first state in the nation to regulate industry’s methane pollution and strengthened standards on the Front Range in 2017. Those rules have led to a significant drop in the number of leaks at well sites across the state.

However, even with the adoption of today’s regulations there is still a significant gap between 2030 greenhouse gas emission projections and the reductions required under Colorado’s historic new climate legislation. That law requires the AQCC to draft a comprehensive regulation by July 2020 setting forth the path to secure those reductions. EDF estimates that an additional 4-5 million metric tons of reductions can be realized over the next decade by additional regulations of the oil and gas sector, including today’s strengthening provisions, leaving at least a 43 million metric ton gap.

Emissions from oil and gas development create significant air pollution. The U.S. EPA recently determined that much of the Denver metropolitan region continues to fail to meet federal ozone standards, posing a significant health risk to the area’s residents. VOC pollution from oil and gas operations is a primary source of ground-level ozone along the Front Range.

The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission has already announced its 2020 schedule in which it has committed to looking at technological innovations to cut methane pollution further such as requiring zero-emission controllers and valves known as “pneumatic devices” and continuous or high frequency leak monitoring systems.

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