Colorado Leads the Nation on Methane Policy Communities, industries thrive in presence of methane regulations
Natural gas is primarily methane, a colorless odorless greenhouse gas that can escape undetected from hundreds of thousands of different sources across the natural gas supply chain---from the well pad to processing facilities, to pipelines and everywhere in between. Every year the industry leaks millions of tons of methane and other dangerous pollutants into the air.i These emissions could be cut in half by implementing costeffective tools and technologies.ii But uncontrolled, these emissions represent the waste of an important energy resource, deteriorate air quality and increase our rate of global warming. National efforts to reduce emissions are critically important.
Impacts to health and environment
Methane is responsible for about a quarter of the global warming we are already experiencing.iii
Over the next two decades, methane will trap 80 times more heat in the atmosphere than the same amount of carbon dioxide.iv
Methane escapes with other harmful pollutants that can increase ground level ozone, also known as smog, and impact public health.v
“Zero tolerance” on oil and gas methane emissions, major benefits for Colorado communities In 2013 Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper called for “zero tolerance” of fugitive oil and gas methane emissions – a year later Colorado became the first state in the nation to directly regulate them.vi
Each year, Colorado will reduce more than 100,000 tons of methane and some 90,000 tons of smogforming volatile organic compounds -- equal to the same amount produced by all the cars and trucks in the state.vii
The same year the regulations were announced, Weld County – which sits in the heart of Colorado’s drilling boom – experienced the highest job growth rate in the nation.viii
Statewide, oil and gas extraction jobs continue to increase.ix
Supporting methane reductions nationwide Following Colorado’s lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently proposed methane emission limits for new and modified sources in the oil and gas industry, and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is expected to issue standards to cut wasteful venting and flaring on federal land in the coming months.
“The Obama administration is on the right track with efforts to reduce oil and gas industry methane emissions, and Colorado is a shining example of how to do it right.” –Denver Post Editorialx
These actions will help bring the same clean air benefits experienced in Colorado, to the rest of the nation—and bring additional benefits to Colorado’s economy.
The oil and gas industry is the leading industrial source of methane pollution across the country, and if action isn’t taken, emissions are projected to increase 25% over the next 10 years.xi
Emissions from Colorado’s tribal lands remains largely unmanaged--- the gas wasted each year on these currently unregulated lands is valued at more than $26 million,xii and could be recaptured and brought to market with strong venting and flaring rules from BLM.
Colorado is home to 19 companies that specialize in methane mitigation.xiii Policies that require drillers to use these tools and services could bolster this growing industry and provide highly skilled, good-paying jobs to Colorado.
Methane emissions from natural gas and petroleum systems were equal to 182.6 mmt CO2e in 2013, according to EPA’s Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/Downloads/ghgemissions/US-GHG-Inventory2015-Main-Text.pdf. Using the global warming potential (GWP) of 25 this is equal to 7.304 mmt of CH4. This potential is used by EPA based on IPCC’s AR5 report. ii Waste Not report, from Clean Air Task Force et al. http://catf.us/resources/publications/files/WasteNot.pdf iii EDF calculation based on IPCC AR5 WGI Chapter 8. iv IPCC AR5 p. 714 https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/wg1/WG1AR5_Chapter08_FINAL.pdf v EPA, Basic Information, Emissions from the Oil & Natural Gas Industry http://www3.epa.gov/airquality/oilandgas/basic.html vi Scientific American “Colorado First State to Limit Methane Pollution from Oil and Gas Wells” Published 2/25/14 http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/colorado-first-state-to-limit-methane-pollution-from-oil-and-gas-wells/ vii EDF press release “In Colorado, a breakthrough for cleaner air and safer climate” https://www.edf.org/media/coloradobreakthrough-cleaner-air-and-safer-climate viii COUNTY EMPLOYMENT AND WAGES, First Quarter 2015 http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/cewqtr.pdf ix Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, Bureau of Labor Statistics http://www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/cewqtr_06172015.htm x Denver Post Editorial “Feds should follow Colorado's example on methane regulation” Published 1/18/2015 http://www.denverpost.com/editorials/ci_27336741/feds-should-follow-colorados-example-methane-regulation xi White House fact sheet: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/01/14/fact-sheet-administration-takes-stepsforward-climate-action-plan-anno-1 xiiEDF calculation based on ICF International report: Onshore Petroleum and Natural Gas Operations on Tribal and Federal Lands in the United States https://www.edf.org/sites/default/files/content/federal_and_tribal_land_analysis_presentation_091615.pdf xiii Datu Research report: ‘The Emerging U.S. Methane Mitigation Industry’ https://www.edf.org/sites/default/files/us_methane_mitigation_industry_report.pdf i