From the Coloradoan

Colorado environmental advocates are hailing the Environmental Protection Agency’s just-finalized methane emissions rule even though the federal oil and gas industry regulations are unlikely to affect operators in the state.

That’s because the new EPA rule was partly modeled after regulations passed in Colorado, which was the first state to regulate methane emissions in the oil and gas industry. In 2014, the state adopted rules requiring operators to detect and fix leaks and install devices to capture 95 percent of methane emissions.

Methane is the principal component of natural gas, the fossil fuel that accounts for roughly one-fourth of American energy consumption. Every link of the natural gas supply chain results in some methane leaking into the air. Those emissions are bad news for climate change because methane molecules trap 25 times more heat in the atmosphere than molecules of carbon dioxide, another heat-trapping gas.

The EPA’s new rule calls on oil and gas operators to find and repair leaks at new or modified wells and capture gas that escapes from fracking wells. The EPA estimates it will cut methane emissions by 510,000 short tons in 2025, the equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas output of 11 coal-fired power plants. The rule is a key component of the Obama administration’s goal to slash methane emissions by 40 to 45 percent by 2025, compared to 2012 levels.

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