Colorado oil and gas regulations are now stronger. What’s next?




State well being officers will write new guidelines to control oil and gas emissions “from cradle to grave” underneath a regulation revamping how the business is regulated in Colorado.

Along with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the state Air Quality Control Commission will develop guidelines to hold out Senate Bill 19-181, signed into regulation by Gov. Jared Polis on April 16.

“It’s a pretty ambitious directive,” Garry Kaufman, director of the state Air Pollution Control Division, mentioned of the invoice. “We’ll really be looking very comprehensively at emissions from cradle to grave.”

In different phrases, from drilling, which the division doesn’t presently monitor, to transmission, or pipelines, via processing. State staffers will meet with events and develop guidelines over the subsequent yr.

The state has tightened regulation of air pollution from oil and gas websites via the years, however a nine-county space alongside the Front Range stays out of compliance with federal air-quality requirements.

Oil and gas manufacturing and autos are the main sources of pollution that kind ground-level ozone — smog. Oil and gas operations additionally emit methane, a potent greenhouse gas contributing to local weather change.

In 2014, Colorado grew to become the primary state within the nation to control methane emissions from oil and gas websites and three years later strengthened a few of the guidelines.

Earlier this yr, 27 county and municipal elected officers in western Colorado wrote to a state job drive and requested that methane and ozone regulations be stepped up statewide. The job drive will make suggestions to the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission no later than January 2020.

The new regulation makes it clear that guidelines on oil and gas emissions will probably be strengthened total, mentioned Dan Grossman, the Environmental Defense Fund’s nationwide director of state applications for oil and gas.

“The bill also adds certainty at the end of the day that there’s going to be a strengthening of the methane rules, which will be good news for everyone,” Grossman added.

The new regulation requires that oil and gas corporations set up steady methane emissions screens at multi-well websites, amenities with excessive emissions and ones close to occupied dwellings. State regulators will even take a look at bolstering necessities for detecting and repairing leaks in tools and additional lowering emissions from pneumatic units used to conserving the gas transferring.

Regulatory modifications in recent times, together with the methane guidelines, have helped minimize air pollution whilst oil and gas manufacturing has elevated, business representatives mentioned. The business has been an energetic participant in efforts to scale back emissions, together with voluntary applications through the summer time, when ozone is often worse, Dan Haley, CEO and president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, mentioned in an announcement.

“As we proceed with the new rulemakings brought about by Senate Bill 181, we are hopeful that the progress that has already been made is part of the conversations going forward,” Ben Marter, Colorado Petroleum Council spokesman, mentioned in an announcement.

Grossman mentioned he hopes the air fee will discover incorporating new and revolutionary know-how to enhance the detection of methane leaks all through the oil and gas provide chain.

Robert Ukeiley, an environmental well being lawyer with the Center for Biological Diversity, mentioned he hopes that as regulators deal with the cumulative results of oil and gas they take into account how permits are accredited. He mentioned the present course of permits corporations to interrupt up emission sources into smaller models, which doesn’t take note of the general affect.

“Ultimately, it’s a big problem in terms of ozone,” Ukeiley mentioned.

Kaufman mentioned the air air pollution management division will overview its guidelines for permits, together with a 27-year-old exemption that permits corporations to emit pollution for 90 days earlier than making use of for a allow.

Industry officers have mentioned the 90-day window permits them to find out how a lot a web site will pollute earlier than limits are set by a allow. They say they function the amenities to satisfy state requirements.

Companies are required to maintain emissions low and should confirm their compliance as a part of the allow course of, Kaufman mentioned.

However, Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette has questioned whether or not the follow violates the federal Clean Air Act. The environmental group WildEarth Guardians has notified oil and gas operators alongside Colorado’s Front Range that it plans to sue over the exemption.




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