Air Quality Control Commission approves new rules to advance climate change goals

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REMOTE — The Air Quality Control Commission has recently approved a new set of rules put forward by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector by more than 4.8 million tons per year by 2030.

The rules are the result of a year of extensive stakeholder engagement and outreach, including to disproportionately impacted communities.

“Colorado continues to be an innovative leader in reducing emissions from the oil and gas sector,” said CDPHE executive director Jill Hunsaker Ryan. “This rule puts Colorado firmly on the path to meet our 2030 emission reduction goals from the oil and gas industry–a 60% reduction from 2005 levels–and it paves the way for others to use these model policies to globally address the warming environment.”

An independent analysis submitted to the commission by Environmental Defense Fund as part of the rule-making found that, even without the new rules approved Friday, Dec. 17, the state is already on pace to meet the goal set by recent legislation of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector by 36% from 2005 levels by 2025.

The following new rules include innovative strategies to reduce emissions:

  • Requiring the capture or control of a significant portion of natural gas emissions currently being emitted from oil and gas production sites, pipeline operations and midstream facilities.
  • Expanding inspections at oil and gas facilities, including production sites and compressor stations, prioritizing sites located in disproportionately impacted communities or in proximity to residences or other occupied areas.
  • Requiring performance testing of enclosed combustion devices, with a focus on earlier and more frequent testing of devices in disproportionately impacted communities.
  • Expanding zero-emitting pneumatic controller requirements to gas plants statewide; current regulations require these controllers at gas plants in areas with high ozone pollution. The rules also call for increasing inspection frequencies of remaining gas-driven pneumatic controllers statewide. Expanding the requirement statewide would further reduce emissions.
  • Improving transparency and accountability in the state’s annual emissions inventories, which will enhance the state’s understanding of emissions from the oil and gas sector and provide the public with more information on these emissions.

These new rules will establish a first-in-the-nation greenhouse gas intensity program for oil and gas production sites across Colorado. This regulatory program will require operators to limit how much greenhouse gas they emit per unit of production and will provide operators with the flexibility to achieve reductions in the most cost effective manner while achieving established goals.

The rules will also cut emissions of volatile organic compounds, which are powerful ozone pollution precursors, by more than 12,700 tons per year.

“The oil and gas sector is one of the largest sources of methane emissions in Colorado, and we have been laser focused on finding innovative solutions that reduce emissions of methane and other greenhouse gases from the industry,” said Shaun McGrath, director of environmental health and protection at CDPHE. “This is good news for Colorado, and I’m confident there are more good days ahead when it comes to innovative, effective regulations that improve air quality and protect Coloradans.”

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