With the support of three leading energy companies and several environmental groups, Colorado has become the first state in the country to pass rules aimed at detecting and reducing methane emissions from oil and gas operations. In an 8-1 vote, Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission approved new hydrocarbon emission control rules on Sunday after a five-day public hearing. The rules were proposed in November and passed with only minor changes.
Most notably, oil and gas operators will now be subject to:
* Monthly inspections for large emission sources;
* Methane leak detection and repair (“LDAR”) programs for pipelines, tanks and other drilling and production processes;
* Aggressive timelines for leakage repairs;
* Stricter limits on emissions from drilling operations located near residential and recreational areas;
* Requirements for retrofitting high-emitting existing sources; and
* Controlling emissions from well maintenance activities.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Association and the Colorado Petroleum Association state the total cost to the industry to comply with the new rules will be in the $100 million range, $60 million more than what state regulators had calculated. Colorado regulators state that the mandated technology is designed to capture 95% of gas leakage from pipes and equipment, the equivalent of taking every car in the state off the road for a year. In a statement, Governor Hickenlooper announced, “All Coloradans deserve a healthy economy and a healthy environment, and we’re working to ensure that Colorado continues to have both.”
This article was authored by Susan V. Anderson, Jackson Kelly PLLC.