DENVER — Today, the Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) voted unanimously to adopt new emissions rules for the oil and gas industry. These rules come in the same week that the Environmental Protection Agency downgraded the Front Range’s air quality rating to “serious.” They focus on reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas industry which makes up a significant amount of Colorado’s climate change-causing emissions.
Across Colorado, conservation and community groups have come together in support of stronger methane rules. These improvements include requiring stronger well leak detection, repair and tank control requirements for low-producing wells and cutting emissions from the transmission sector. Curbing methane pollution is key to Colorado improving its air quality and meeting its carbon emissions reduction targets of 50 percent by 2030 and 90 percent by 2050.
Specifically, these regulatory updates will:
- Enhance statewide leak detection and repair requirements at a minimum twice annually for all oil and gas infrastructure — including low-producing wells;
- Expand “find and fix” requirements to prevent leaks from pneumatic devices which move gas, oil, or other liquids;
- Close the 90-day permitting loophole that allows oil and gas drilling to move forward without an air permit creating better transparency and accountability early in the drilling process;
- Strengthen statewide requirements to reduce emissions from storage tanks — including low-producing wells;
- Develop a first-of-its-kind, performance-based standard for reducing emissions in the natural gas transmission and storage sector;
- Create new annual reporting requirements for oil and gas producers of methane emissions from all their facilities and activities.
Conservation and community organizations released the following statements in response:
“Western Colorado Alliance thanks the Air Quality Control Commission for adopting these new regulations. The Alliance looks forward to playing our part in minimizing climate change and having the air quality here in Western Colorado protected from the harmful emissions of the oil and gas industry just as it is on the Front Range.”
– Rodger Steen, Western Colorado Alliance oil and gas committee chair, Routt County
“Our community has worked for years to protect air quality on the West Slope and here in Battlement Mesa, where we’re surrounded by well pads. We thank the Air Quality Control Commission for listening to our concerns and adopting additional leak detection and repair requirements for oil and gas facilities within 1,000 feet of for neighborhoods, schools and other public areas. Everyone living near a well will appreciate this significant and courageous action by the AQCC, as well as the new statewide rules to reduce ozone and methane emissions.”
– Dave Devanney, Battlement Concerned Citizens
“Since air knows no political boundaries, any source of air pollution in Colorado is of concern to all citizens who want their families to breathe clean air. The Air Quality Control Commission heard the concerns of citizens all across the state and took action today by implementing statewide regulations to cut ozone and methane emissions from the oil and gas industry.”
– Leslie Robinson, Rifle, Grand Valley Citizens Alliance, Garfield County
“Residents of Western Colorado appreciate the Air Quality Control Commission’s decision to adopt these new rules and apply them statewide. This is a great step forward in protecting the air quality here in Western Colorado. We have been and will continue to be impacted by oil and gas development. These regulations will help to protect public health as we move into the future.”
– Bennett Boeschenstein, former Grand Junction city council member, Mesa County
“Western Slope Coloradans live under a methane cloud that threatens both our health and environment, and so we need the same air quality protections as those living on the Front Range. We appreciate that the commissioners have listened to our concerns, and thank the AQCC for enacting strong methane regulations with enhanced leak testing and repair requirements, as well as stronger standards for storage and reporting.”
– Mark Pearson, Executive Director, San Juan Citizens Alliance
“The commonsense policies adopted today by Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission are an important step toward cleaning up our air and fighting climate change at its source. Thank you to Governor Polis and his entire administration for working to protect public health, hold corporate polluters accountable, and preserve our Colorado way of life.”
– Kelly Nordini, Executive Director, Conservation Colorado
“Every Coloradan deserves to breathe clean air, and the rules adopted today by the AQCC will lead to direct improvements in Colorado’s air quality while supporting the state with reaching its climate goals. We applaud the AQCC for pursuing these smart regulations and for prioritizing Coloradans’ health, our air, and our climate.”
– Joro Walker, general counsel, Western Resource Advocates
“Colorado has been the leader in the nation in establishing the rules to cut methane emissions during the production of gas and oil. Colorado can again lead the nation, as the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission prepares to address the proposed regulations, to ‘find and fix’ methane leaks in the drilling and production of gas and oil. Since the initial rules were adopted, the number of scientific studies on this topic has significantly increased. The scientific research has increasingly establishing the harmful effects to the health and wellbeing of people, especially children, living in close proximity to the drilling rigs,compressors and pipelines.
This is a profound opportunity for the Commission to positively impact the health of Coloradoans, now and for future generations. The Colorado Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, ANHE, strongly urges the Commissioners to seize this opportunity and adopt the stronger standards state wide.”
– V. Sean Mitchell, MSN, APRN-BC Colorado Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments
“This is such an important day, and we applaud the commission for truly taking into account public health and safety. Monitoring and inspecting all oil and gas sites, but particularly those in close proximity to homes, schools, and public areas for leaks and emissions is a critical component of that. We thank the commission for hearing the voices of hundreds impacted Coloradans and taking this major step today.”
– Sara Loflin, LOGIC Executive Director