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Colorado to require early pollution monitoring with new oil and gas development

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) — Colorado officials have approved new rules that require air pollution monitoring at oil and gas sites during early stages of operations — the first state regulatory system of its kind in the country, the state Department of Public Health and Environment said.

The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission unanimously approved the program Wednesday.

The rules require companies to monitor emissions during the drilling of wells, hydraulic fracturing and during the first six months of production, the Daily Sentinel reported.

The newly passed initiatives are a continuation of the commission’s efforts to implement a 2019 measure that required the commission to overhaul regulations governing how oil and gas extraction works in the state.

In December, regulators also adopted rules that tightened leak detection, emissions control and other measures.

The state Air Pollution Control Division estimates that the rules will cut state emissions of nitrous oxide by more than 2,300 tons (2,087 metric tons) annually.

The new air quality rules have been challenged in court by several Colorado counties, including Weld and a coalition of Western Slope counties led by Garfield County. District court judges in Denver have recently ruled against the respective counties’ claims, but Weld County has appealed and Garfield County is also weighing an appeal.

Battlement Concerned Citizens, representing residents of the Battlement Mesa community who favored the new air quality rules and other measures being put forth under Senate Bill 181, applauded the AQCC’s adoption of the new rules.

“As a resident living in a rural community with hundreds of active wells surrounding our neighborhoods and more proposed near my home, I thank the AQCC for adopting stronger rules that require more monitoring for emissions throughout the drilling process and prevent venting of methane and toxic air pollutants,” said Battlement resident and BCC member Betsy Leonard in a statement issued by the Western Colorado Alliance.

As other states seek to address pollution from the initial stages of oil and gas development, Colorado has adopted the most comprehensive measures so far, according to the statement. 

The new rule will go into effect next spring for all new oil and gas development.

Post Independent staff contributed to this report.


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