With Powerful New Oil and Gas Rules, Colorado Sets Bar for Nation-leading Protections

Statement from Matthew Garrington, Senior Manager, Partnerships & Outreach

December 17, 2021
Matt McGee, (512) 691-3478, mmcgee@edf.org

(Denver, CO) Today the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission voted unanimously to adopt landmark rules limiting oil and gas methane and air pollution.

The rules will require frequent inspections for all wells, including smaller, leak-prone ones which have been shown to be responsible for an outsized share of emissions. In addition, the rules will prohibit venting of methane during maintenance activities.

“Climate change is already threatening our water supplies, fueling western wildfires, and harming our economy while air pollution levels on the Front Range can be so high it means exercising outside can put your health at risk. These problems demand bold solutions now like those the Commission adopted today.

“With these rules, Colorado again sets the bar for what nation-leading methane protections should look like. These rules will ensure every well site is inspected including the nearly 12,000 smaller, leak-prone wells that can add up to huge emissions. We applaud the Commission for adopting measures that will provide greater protections for Disproportionately Impacted Communities and those living near well sites. The rules the Commission adopted today are critical for our climate, our air, and communities.”


Today’s Air Quality Control Commission rule is adopted as the Environmental Protection Agency accepts public comment through Jan. 31 on its own recently-proposed rules to reduce methane and air pollution nationwide from both new and existing oil and gas sites.

EPA’s proposed requirements are based in part on Colorado’s first-in-the-nation methane protections implemented in 2014 – including the now-outdated leak detection and repair approach that omitted inspections for smaller, leak-prone wells.

As EPA seeks to strengthen current emission standards for new wells and enact comprehensive protections for existing ones, the latest AQCC rule provides a strong benchmark for the agency.

Colorado’s newly adopted leak detection and repair program is the strongest such program in the nation.  

EDF also anticipates that the AQCC will take up future rulemakings over the next two years including additional requirements for “zero-bleed” pneumatics, additional controls for natural gas processing, and the direct measurement of emissions and verification of emission reductions to realize the goals outlined in H.B. 1266.

These new oil and gas methane rules come at a time when state officials have fallen behind in putting in place the comprehensive set of regulations necessary to meet statewide climate targets. In order to achieve the greenhouse gas emission reductions mandated by state statute, the AQCC needs to swiftly follow this rulemaking with the adoption of enforceable regulations covering all major pollution sources.

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