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U.S. looks to Colorado for methane emissions policy By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen on the headquarters of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Washington, D.C., U.S., May 10, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo


By Valerie Volcovici and Nichola Groom

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. environmental regulators are anticipated to base new guidelines for controlling methane emissions from oil and gasoline operations on the nation-leading insurance policies of a state that has been tamping down on the potent greenhouse gasoline for seven years – Colorado.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is probably going to unveil the principles, which could have main repercussions for oil and gasoline drillers, this week, in accordance to sources conversant in early variations of the proposed rules.

The proposal, which can be rolled out simply days earlier than the beginning of the United Nations convention on world warming in Glasgow, is a key pillar of the Biden administration’s broader crackdown on local weather change.

While drillers from main producing states like Texas and North Dakota are bracing for a raft of latest necessities, for corporations in Colorado, stiffer authorities guidelines round methane emissions are enterprise as standard.

The state has each robust environmental ambitions and a big oil and gasoline business. It first put state-level methane rules into place in 2014, and has regularly expanded these necessities in efforts to reduce methane emissions from the drilling sector by greater than half of 2005 ranges by 2030.

“Colorado regulations are the toughest on the planet,” Dan Haley, president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, stated, including that the principles had been crafted with business enter.

Methane, a gasoline that leaks from oil and gasoline infrastructure, livestock farming and landfills, is the second-biggest explanation for local weather change after carbon dioxide. It has the next heat-trapping potential than CO2 but it surely breaks down within the ambiance quicker, so fast reductions of methane emissions can shortly have a big affect on slashing greenhouse gases.

The U.S. and European Union final month kicked off an effort by two dozen nations to slash methane emissions 30% over the following decade.

Current federal guidelines restrict methane emissions from new sources, leaving present operations unregulated in states that wouldn’t have their very own requirements.

Colorado’s guidelines require oil and gasoline corporations to discover and repair methane leaks and set up applied sciences to restrict or stop emissions at present operations. Since 2019, it has required semiannual leak detection, tank controls and efficiency requirements for transmission. The guidelines, which additionally apply to low-production, or so-called marginal wells, additionally ban routine flaring of methane and require the set up of valves that cut back emissions.


Oil manufacturing in Colorado surged 57% between 2015 and 2019 due to the rise of horizontal drilling strategies that underpinned the U.S. shale gasoline growth earlier than slipping in 2020 on the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, in accordance to U.S. Energy Information Administration knowledge.

Methane emissions development lagged the manufacturing will increase, climbing 9% within the 2015 to 2019 interval, in accordance to the state. In the Permian Basin, in the meantime, the nation’s largest and best oil discipline which covers parts of Texas and New Mexico, methane emissions from oil manufacturing soared by greater than 1 / 4 throughout that point at massive amenities that report to the EPA, federal knowledge exhibits.

“It’s noteworthy that Colorado emissions have remained fairly stable despite an increase in oil and production,” Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment spokesperson Andrew Bare stated in an emailed assertion. He added the 2019 figures don’t mirror anticipated emissions reductions from extra insurance policies the state has crafted since.

“Since 2014 it feels like we’ve been engaged in almost continuous rulemaking,” stated Garry Kaufman, director of the CDPHE’s air air pollution management division.

The state has been deploying overflights and ground-based measurements to strive to refine its measurement of methane emissions.

The EPA examined quite a lot of state applications and spoke with state regulators, together with Colorado’s, because it evaluated new methane guidelines, in accordance to EPA spokesperson Nick Conger.


    Some Colorado drillers have embraced the chance to market what they invoice as lower-emitting pure gasoline to clients keen to tout their environmental credentials.

“Being a Colorado operator has really given us a tremendous advantage relative to the rest of the United States in terms of the environmental quality of our operations,” Brian Cain, vice chairman of presidency affairs for Denver-based Extraction Oil and Gas Inc, stated in an interview.

His firm, which produced a mean of 88,907 barrels of oil equal per day final yr, is merging with two others to kind Civitas Resources Inc and concentrate on lower-emission drilling in Colorado’s Denver-Julesburg Basin.

Jon Goldstein of inexperienced group Environmental Defense Fund says the state’s manufacturing will increase since 2014 “show the fallacy in the oil and gas industry myth about strong, comprehensive methane rules putting industry out of business.”

Others say the brand new guidelines have made doing enterprise within the state untenable, notably for smaller, much less well-capitalized producers. Some have began to look elsewhere for future operations, stated Trisha Fanning, who leads the Colorado Small Operator Society, representing 60 oil and gasoline corporations.

“Some operators are no longer able to economically operate within the state,” she stated. This doesn’t bode properly for small operators nationwide, Fanning added, since “we expect the federal methane rule to possibly take several aspects from Colorado.”

Industry gamers voiced concern that the EPA might comply with Colorado’s lead and apply methane guidelines to small manufacturing or “marginal” wells, which environmental teams say are a big supply of methane emissions, in accordance to sources who noticed earlier variations of the proposal.

Research by EDF (PA:) this yr discovered there are 565,000 actively producing marginal U.S. properly websites, which signify 5.8% of mixed oil and gasoline manufacturing however an outsized share of emissions. For instance, within the Appalachian Basin, gasoline wells that account for 0.2% to 0.4% of manufacturing account for 11% of federal methane emissions, in accordance to EDF.

Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, stated federal marginal properly rules would have an effect on 20% of present oil and gasoline manufacturing. “A lot of those wells would have to be shut in,” she stated.

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