New Air Pollution Rules for Colorado's Oil and Gas Drillers

On Sunday the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission created new air pollution rules for oil and gas drillers, including the nation’s first statewide limit on methane gas emissions. The decision was made with support from Anadarko Petroleum, Noble Energy, and Encana, some of Colorado’s largest oil and gas operators.

The Commission’s new ruling will require companies to install the latest technologies such as vapor recovery tanks in order to trap and contain at least 95% of harmful vapors, detect and fix leaks, and depending upon their pollution output, inspect for leaks, and fix them within 15 days.

Colorado’s state health director told the Denver Post the reason that this action was taken was to ensure the health and safety of all Coloradans, and to help for future safety as well. Also in a statement to the Denver Post, Noble Senior Vice President, Ted Brown, said that although the new regulations are strict, he believes that they are smart and cost-efficient to provide oil and gas in a safe manner for all communities. In a statement from Gov. Hickenlooper, he said that this is a step to ensure that, “Colorado has the cleanest and safest oil and gas industry in the country”.

However, others believe that these new regulations could adversely affect smaller companies, and also their employees. During a testimony in front of the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission, State Sen. Greg Brophy urged the Commission to not punish rural Coloradans with a “one size fits all” air regulation. He said that this is due to a larger problem with “smog and traffic congestion” in urban cities rather than any harm drilling activity in rural Colorado has created.

We will have to wait to see if these new rule changes will help mitigate the impacts of air emissions and also sustain economic development, but for right now the Governor and some of the bigger oil drillers are hopeful. 

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