Editorial: Colorado scores with air pollution reg | AspenTimes.com

Editorial: Colorado scores with air pollution reg

The decision by Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission on Sunday to regulate air pollution produced by the oil-and-gas industry will benefit all state residents — even if they don’t live near a gas patch.

Colorado will become the first state to regulate methane emissions from drilling and production of natural gas. That’s important because methane is a particularly potent greenhouse gas and accelerates global warming. Before his death, Randy Udall, an energy expert from Carbondale, called methane “CO2 on steroids.”

When the rules were introduced last fall, the state health chief was reported as saying that they would cut air pollution in Colorado by 92,000 tons per year. That’s roughly equivalent to taking every car in Colorado off the road for a year, reports said.

Air pollution has no boundaries. Although there is no drilling in the Roaring Fork Valley, activity in western Garfield County could be affecting air quality in Aspen. The new rules regulate hydrocarbons, which affect the air we breathe, as well as methane.

We applaud oil and gas firms Encana, Noble Energy and Anadarko Petroleum for bucking the industry trend and supporting the tougher air-pollution rules. They realize the regulation is a much-needed compromise necessary to ease concerns about pollution from hydraulic fracturing and from leaks in pipelines and other infrastructure used in production.

Natural gas has gained the reputation of a “bridge fuel” between coal and renewable-energy sources. It’s touted as an effective, practical way to reduce greenhouse gases. That’s only true if methane isn’t leaking.

We hope other gas-producing states will follow Colorado’s lead and adopt tougher air-pollution regulation on natural gas. That’s the only way natural gas will be a viable bridge fuel.

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