Colorado proposes air-quality crackdown for oil, gas
Colo. proposes air-quality crackdown for oil, gas
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By KRISTEN WYATT
DENVER — Under pressure to tighten air quality standards for oil and gas drillers, Colorado officials have proposed the nation’s first statewide standards for methane emissions and other heightened safeguards.
The rules proposed Monday don’t require more state inspections of drilling sites. But they propose a system of infrared cameras to speed detection of leaks from tanks and pipelines. The monitoring has an estimated price tag to the industry of $30 million.
Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission could make the rules final by February.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
Colorado’s long-awaited new rules on oil and gas drillers and air quality were made public Monday, highlighted by what could be the nation’s first statewide standards for methane emissions from drilling.
Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat and former geologist known for resisting crackdowns on Colorado’s growing oil and gas industry, planned to announce the proposed rules Monday afternoon. Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission could make the rules final by February.
The new regulations “reflect a real desire and a push to see something a little stronger on the health side,” said Dr. Larry Wolk, Colorado’s chief medical officer.
Wolk previewed the rules before several dozen environmental activists Monday morning. The details weren’t expected to be released until midafternoon.
Environmental activists have been hoping the air commission is stricter on the industry than the agency that regulates spills, the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission. The Air Quality Control Commission is part of the state health department.
The new rules could include tighter emission controls on storage tanks and expanding pollution control requirements that apply in Front Range communities.
Oil and gas emissions are the main source of volatile organic compounds in Colorado and the third-largest source of nitrogen oxides.
Drilling critics have been increasing pressure for a crackdown on the powerful oil and gas industry. Earlier this month, a group of concerned moms showed up at Hickenlooper’s office with dolls they called “gas patch kids” to represent real children living in areas impacted by the surge of oil and gas drilling in the state.
The push comes after a legislative session in which the governor’s office largely resisted proposals from some Democrats in the Legislature to crack down on the industry through increased drilling inspections and other changes.
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