A change to the way oil and gas pollution is regulated is the next big step for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

CDPHE is moving forward to adopt EPA’s air pollution rules. In 2012, EPA set new standards in accordance with cost effective ways of reducing

The Denver Post reported that the need for an overhaul in standards comes from oil and gas industry operations on the Front Range that emit at least 600 tons of contaminants a day causing Colorado locals to question recent increased drilling and it’s health effects.  Comparing the Front Range to the larger picture, total U.S. emissions in 2011 equaled 6,702 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent. That’s about 18.6 million tons per day, making the Front Range contaminants only 3.2% of overall emissions every day. The largest contributor of emissions was electricity at 33% of total greenhouse gas emissions, followed by transportation at 28% and 20% from industry sources.

Images from United States Environmental Protection Agency

The proposed measures are as follows:

• Strengthen emission controls on storage tanks;

• Expand statewide the existing pollution control requirements that currently apply in the metro Denver and north Front Range areas that fail to meet federal ozone standards;

• Establish leak-detection and repair requirements for oil and gas wellheads and compressor stations;

• Encourage the routing of natural gas into a sales pipeline within six months after new wells are drilled;

• Streamline permitting requirements by increasing the permit threshold from two to five tons per year of pollution to 25 tons per year;

• Raise thresholds for reporting oil and gas pollution.

Colorado Drilling Activity

So far in 2013, approximately 2,057 drilling permits were approved in 27 of Colorado’s 64 counties. Weld County, Colorado (home to the Wattenberg Field) ranked number one on the list.


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