Colorado touts leadership in methane rules

EPA draws fire for mandating what critics say is a one-size-fits-all policy for oil and gas.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   May 13, 2016 at 7:19 AM
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DENVER, May 13 (UPI) -- Federal rules on emissions tied to the oil and gas industry follows an example set by state regulators in shale-rich Colorado, the state's governor said.

The federal government released new efforts to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, which the Environmental Protection Agency said should help with efforts to cut emissions from the sector by 45 percent of their 2012 levels by 2025.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said the EPA measure follows an example set by a state air quality commission that made Colorado the first in the country to regulate its own methane emissions.

"In the most important respects, Colorado's rules appear to be equivalent, if not more protective in certain circumstances than what EPA has finalized today," he said in a statement.

Colorado oil and gas production is down sharply from previous years as energy companies curb their activity because of lower crude oil prices. The American Petroleum Institute, which represents the business interests of the oil and gas industry, said the federal rules are restricting an economic sector already facing significant pressures.

"It doesn't make sense that the administration would add unreasonable and overly burdensome regulations when the industry is already leading the way in reducing emissions," API policy director Kyle Isakower said in a statement. "Imposing a one-size-fits-all scheme on the industry could actually stifle innovation and discourage investments in new technologies that could serve to further reduce emissions."

According to the API, the industry, not governments, are pushing methane emissions lower. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is more than 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

"The final rule also provides companies a pathway to align the final standards with comparable state-specific requirements they may have," the EPA said.

Colorado Rep. Scott Tipton, a Republican, said the federal rules won't matter much when it comes to air quality, but they will matter when it comes to the industry. The federal government, he said, is adding another layer of red tape for industry players already trying to coordinate with state efforts.

"States are already leading the charge on methane collection efforts," Tipton said in a statement. "The EPA should focus on enforcing existing laws, rather than promulgating new overreaching rules and regulations to stifle job creation and responsible energy production that Congress did not approve or pass."

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