Denver District Court Dismisses Challenge to 2019 Methane and Air Pollution Rules

Statement from Environmental Defense Fund and Healthy Air & Water Colorado

July 30, 2020
Matthew McGee, (512) 691-3478,
Michele Ames, (303) 817-5510,

(DENVER) On Wednesday, the Denver District Court dismissed a lawsuit by the Weld County Board of County Commissioners challenging oil and gas methane and air pollution rules that were adopted unanimously by Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission in November 2019.

 “This decision is an important victory for our health and climate. Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission unanimously adopted the 2019 methane rules as a cost-effective and common sense approach to reducing methane and air pollution from oil and gas sources across the state. Colorado must continue to innovate and provide thoughtful, smart solutions that protect our air and climate.”

  • Dan Grossman, Senior Director of State Advocacy, Environmental Defense Fund

“In the midst of a viral respiratory pandemic, this decision will help keep our air clean and provides a welcome sigh of relief. We simply cannot afford to step backwards when it comes to our air and climate.”

  • Jake Williams, Executive Director, Healthy Air & Water Colorado

“As demonstrated during the rulemaking last fall, the regulations adopted by the state are technically and legally sound and will provide important protections for public health and the environment. We are pleased the court has dismissed this unprecedented challenge by a county to oil and gas regulations adopted by the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission.”

  • Tom Bloomfield, Partner at Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell, representing Environmental Defense Fund and Healthy Air & Water Colorado in the lawsuit

Additional background

In May, EDF and Healthy Air & Water Colorado filed to intervene in this attack on AQCC’s rules. A coalition of rural counties led by Garfield County has filed a similar lawsuit that is pending before the Denver District Court. EDF and HAWC have also filed a motion to intervene in that suit in order to defend the 2019 AQCC rules.

The 2019 AQCC methane and air pollution rules were supported by thirty-five local government entities including counties, municipalities, and public health departments from across the state as well as thousands of ordinary Coloradans. They include the following requirements:

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

# # #

Environmental Defense Fund (, a leading international nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on EDF Voices, Twitter and Facebook.