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Air Quality Officials Tighten Pollution Rules For Drillers

Photo by Kirk Siegler
New rules set standards for methane emissions for oil and gas producers in Colorado

The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission voted 8-1 Sunday to approve new regulations for oil and gas producers. The rules include a first-in-the-nation statewide limit on methane emissions. Environmental groups heralded the decision, which followed four days of public testimony that ended Saturday.

"The Commission has taken an important step to protect Coloradans from the smog generated by oil and gas development," Earthjustice staff attorney Mike Freeman said in an email.  "While more will be needed to meet federal air quality standards, we’re pleased that Colorado is taking a big bite out of the problem."

Several of the largest energy companies in Colorado signed onto the plan, although some industry groups objected, saying the new rules would unfairly burden smaller producers.

Doug Flanders, Director of Policy and External Affairs for the Colorado Oil & Gas Association, said in a statement:

"Oil and gas operators in Colorado strive to protect the health and safety of our communities and environment every day; after all, these are the communities where we are raising our families. The rulemaking process demonstrated a commitment to bringing all stakeholders together. The new rules accomplish much, which we support.  Unfortunately, we were not successful in ensuring that the rule accommodates the differences in basins and operators. Nevertheless, we are committed to working with our operators, our communities, and the state to successfully and effectively implement these rules."

The sweeping new regulations also require energy companies to use state-of-the-art equipment like infrared cameras to detect leaks.

As the host of KUNC’s new program and podcast In the NoCo, I work closely with our producers and reporters to bring context and diverse perspectives to the important issues of the day. Northern Colorado is such a diverse and growing region, brimming with history, culture, music, education, civic engagement, and amazing outdoor recreation. I love finding the stories and voices that reflect what makes NoCo such an extraordinary place to live.
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