Colorado is poised to become the first state in the country to directly regulate methane emissions associated with oil and gas drilling. The proposed rules are a result of the collaborative efforts of non-profit environmental group, the Environmental Defense Fund, Noble Energy, Inc., Encana Corp., and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. A central component of the regulations is the requirement that oil and gas companies actively detect methane leaks from wells, tanks, pipelines, and other oil and gas production facilities using infrared technology, and that the companies repair any leaks quickly. The proposal also calls for monthly inspections at larger facilities and adherence to stricter emission limits from equipment near more populated areas. According to state officials, the proposal would result in reducing air pollution by 92,000 tons/year, the equivalent of taking every car off the road in the state. Estimated costs to industry range from $30-$80 million per year.
The announcement comes just two weeks after four Colorado cities voted to suspend or to ban hydraulic fracturing. Governor Hickenlooper stated the methane regulatory framework will “make sure people’s air is much cleaner than what some of their fears would have led them to believe.” In a joint statement, Noble, Encana and Anadarko stated that “[t]his collaboration is a good model for developing effective regulations and activities to monitor, control and reduce methane leaks and VOCs. The process and increased accountability established by the proposal will provide transparency and build public trust.”
A public hearing on the rules is set for February 2014.
For more information, please contact Susan V. Anderson, Esq.