- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Colorado politicos are mulling methane emission regulations, seeking to become the first state in the nation to limit levels tied to oil and gas drilling.

The rules, proposed by Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, would limit how much methane and natural gas could be emitted into the air during drills, The Washington Post reported. The new rules would mean companies would have to pay extra attention to their tanks and pipelines — to look for leaks — and issue monthly reports to state environmental officials on just how much methane is escaping. The state sees the proposal as a first of many; officials already predict more rules to limit emissions of drilling operations near wells are on the way, The Washington Post said.

And then — even more rules are predicted of what could be emitted by residential areas, officials said in The Post report.

The rules, which don’t yet put numbers to the emission limits, are only in the shaping stages. But once the rules are enacted, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment would oversee their implementation. Officials with that agency guess the regulations would reduce methane emission levels by 92,000 tons a year  — more than what’s emitted by vehicles in Colorado in one year.

Officials say one main health benefit could be a reduction in asthma cases, The Post reported. Detractors say the regulations could add considerably to the cost of oil and gas drilling — leading to increased energy costs for businesses and residential consumers.

The proposed rules — which are supported by some oil and gas companies in the state, but not all — still have to be approved by the Air Quality Control Commission, which could give the thumbs-up as early as this week, The Post said.

Environmentalists are cheering.

These rules could be “a model for the nation,” said Fred Krupp, the president of the Environmental Defense Fund, in The Post report. “It shows that state officials, industry leaders and environmental groups can come together to develop win-win solutions that help square the need to protect local communities and the environment with the need for domestic energy production.”

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