- Associated Press - Saturday, February 15, 2014

DENVER (AP) - New air quality rules for Colorado’s booming oil and gas industry go under review Wednesday when health officials start taking public testimony on a set of upgrades meant to reduce air pollution from drilling.

Parts of Colorado haven’t meet federal ozone standards for four years. The state’s Air Quality Control Commission last year proposed tougher air quality checks for energy producers including the nation’s first statewide rule on methane emissions.

The rules also require a new monitoring system of infrared cameras at drilling sites to speed detection of leaks.

5 Things to Know about the rules and what they might mean for Colorado:


Colorado’s oil and gas industry is regulated by a special commission that critics have long accused of being too friendly to drillers. But air quality is regulated by an agency in the Health Department, which proposed the regulations in November.

Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper touted the rules as a grand compromise among environmentalists, health officials and the oil and gas industry.

The state’s largest oil and gas companies - Anadarko, Encana and Noble Energy - signed on to the proposal. So did the Environmental Defense Fund.


The rules are intended to force energy producers to cut down on “fugitive emissions,” those air pollutants that can leak from drilling sites and storage sites.

The rules include a first-in-the-nation requirement for leak detection from tanks and pipelines using infrared cameras that can spot problems that otherwise may not be discovered. Another first is the statewide methane emissions standard for oil and gas production.

The rules would also force drillers to use flare devices to burn off emissions from facilities not connected to pipelines.

The state has put the tab for industry compliance to the stricter air rules at about $40 million a year. The Colorado Petroleum Association puts the cost at about $100 million.


The Commission predicts the rules would trim more than a third of Colorado’s air pollution from volatile organic compounds, which contribute to ozone. That’s about 92,000 tons a year.

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