In 2014 Colorado approved the first methane regulations in the nation requiring energy companies to reduce methane emissions from oil and natural gas operations. The regulations are “more protective” than what the EPA announced according to the Environmental Defense Fund.
In fact, after new methane emissions regulations led by the energy industry with support from a wide range of local governments were adopted in 2021, The Denver Post wrote that, “Federal rules to reduce methane from oil and natural gas operations were modeled after Colorado regulations. In 2014, Colorado approved the first state-level methane regulations in the country and has continued to strengthen its requirements.”
According to the Denver Business Journal, “field surveys by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) of oil and gas equipment found a 75 percent drop in the number of sites where methane leaks were detected compared to similar surveys prior to the regulations.” Asked how well the regulations were working, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said “Colorado’s rules are working extremely well.”
Colorado’s rules are working extremely well.
— Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (2016)
Former Governor John Hickenlooper said in 2019, “We brought environmentalists and oil and gas companies to the table to create the toughest emissions laws in the country.” To this day, these regulations continue to help move Colorado’s energy future forward by promoting responsible energy production. In fact, recent innovations and strict regulations mean that Colorado saw fewer poor air quality days in 2018 than at any other time in the past 40 years – all while oil and natural gas production in the state increased by a magnitude of 10.
Here are some of the other ways Colorado is reducing emissions:
- Use of electric-powered drilling rigs instead of diesel-powered rigs.
- New closed-loop systems that are airtight and designed to reduce emissions.
- Constantly performing Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) inspections using infrared cameras that detect emissions invisible to the human eye. Since 2014, the industry has carried out nearly 2.7 million of these inspections.
According to the EPA, “methane emissions in the United States decreased by 15.8 percent between 1990 and 2017.” Their findings showed that in this span, while emissions have increased from sources associated with agriculture, emissions have decreased from natural gas.
In fact, the U.S. Energy Information Administration has said that, “increasing use of natural gas has helped reduce overall U.S. CO2 emissions growth.”
"Increasing use of natural gas has helped reduce overall U.S. CO2 emissions growth."
—U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA.gov)
It’s not just Colorado. Other states are taking similar steps. In 2016, Pennsylvania announced a four-point plan aimed at reducing leaks by proposing new permit requirements and new leak detection and repair programs.
Methane emissions have been on the decline in our country for years, and our regulations here in Colorado are helping to reduce them even more.
Learn more about Colorado’s tough regulations here.