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Colorado's Air Quality Control Commission Unanimously Adopts Rule Requiring Direct Measurement of Methane Emissions from Oil and Gas Operators


On July 19, the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission unanimously adopted a nation-leading rule that, for the first time, requires the direct measurement of oil and gas methane emissions to verify regulatory compliance.  Methane is a potent greenhouse gas (GHG), with a warming potential 80 times that of carbon dioxide over the short term. Historically, oil and gas operators reported emissions based on calculations, not actual measurements.  This new rule requires the direct measurement of methane that will provide a more accurate and complete understanding of methane emissions on an operator-by-operator basis.  Once implemented, the rule will enable the agency and the public to understand whether oil and gas operators are complying with the Colorado intensity standard (which is a measure of emissions per unit of production) and also reveal more opportunities for reducing these harmful emissions.  This program will also enable the State to track progress toward achieving the oil and gas sector GHG statutory reduction targets of 36% reduction below 2005 levels by 2025 and 60% by 2030. Requiring direct measurement of methane pollution is the next frontier in oil and gas regulation and represents a next generation regulation for the oil and gas industry, based on the best available science and grounded in real and meaningful emission reductions.

Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell partner Tom Bloomfield said that “We anticipate that this rule will serve as a model as other states and jurisdictions seek to reduce methane pollution from oil and gas sites. Today’s unprecedented rule builds upon our previous oil and gas climate work and demonstrates Colorado’s continued leadership on these issues.” 

Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell attorneys, Tom Bloomfield, Sarah Judkins, Tim Roth, and Sarah Keane, represented Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Colorado Communities for Climate Action (CC4CA) in this rulemaking.  Environmental Defense Fund is a national environmental non-governmental organization, which, nationwide and in Colorado, has focused on, among other things, the environmental and health impacts of oil and gas production and methods to reduce GHG emissions from the oil and gas industry.  Colorado Communities for Climate Action is a coalition of 42 local governments across Colorado advocating for stronger state and federal climate policy.  KKR attorneys represented these clients in negotiating this rule with the State and oil and gas operators, and in the rulemaking process before the Commission. 

Nini Gu from Environmental Defense Fund praised the Firm’s efforts: “Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell was a tremendous asset on the verification rulemaking.  They worked incredibly hard to ensure Colorado operators verify methane emissions in a manner that is robust and scientifically valid.  Their dedication, knowledge of these issues, and strategic engagement throughout these negotiations and rulemaking were remarkable. This is an important victory for Coloradans and the climate, and I can’t imagine a better team to work with.”

Jacob Smith, Executive Director of Colorado Communities for Climate Action, also praised the Commission’s decision and KKR’s role in negotiating the rule proposal, stating: “Local governments appreciate the iterative stakeholder process that led to a consensus proposal and today’s unanimous vote. These updated regulations on measuring GHG pollution from oil and gas operations stand out as an example of effective consensus building between industry, local government, the conservation community, and the Air Pollution Control Division, and the result should be meaningful pollution reductions.”

Read More:

Colorado Adopts First-of-its-kind Measures to Verify Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Certain Oil and Gas Sites

Colorado Adopts Groundbreaking Methane Measurement Rule