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Colorado Passes New Regulations on Fracking Emissions

Energy & Resources

By Edward Friel

While Colorado is now receiving recognition as the first state to approve regulations that restrict that amount of emissions at oil and natural gas drilling sites as a result of hydraulic fracturing, it can be argued that it is following Pennsylvania’s footsteps.   

Hydraulic fracturing uses sand, water and chemicals, under heavy pressure, to crack rock formations below ground to allow oil and gas to flow to the surface.  Hydrocarbons are produced from this procedure, and they can be leaked into the atmosphere.  Colorado’s new regulations will require drilling companies to install new equipment that will minimize the amount of gases released.

These new rules in Colorado are supported by some oil drilling companies, environmental groups and state government.  Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Noble Energy Inc. and Encana Corp., some of the state’s largest oil and gas producers, are all behind the new regulations, which will help to improve the air quality.  Other companies in the industry are concerned about the costs to comply with the regulations and feel that the state may have underestimated their projections.

In August 2013, Pennsylvania developed and implemented measures to reduce emissions from well sites, as well as compression stations.  In order to comply with permit exemption standards, the operators are required to have a leak detection and repair (LDAR) program.  This program should reduce methane emissions to a higher degree than required by federal rules.

As drilling continues at a record pace, both Pennsylvania and Colorado are working with industry and taking steps to protect air quality.

If you have a question or would like to discuss drilling and fracking, contact Ed Friel or visit our Energy and Natural Resources Industry Group page.

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