Colorado’s energy boom is bringing a new prosperity to our state by providing skilled jobs, contributing tax revenue, driving economic growth, and creating jobs. In fact, we produce so much natural gas that we actually export about three-quarters across the U.S.
When done right, natural gas represents the cleanest of the fossil fuels – especially when it comes to carbon pollution. In fact, the demand for natural gas is being driven by a larger national demand for cleaner energy. But there’s a problem – when not done right natural gas development can also leak a huge amount of methane, the main ingredient in natural gas and a powerful pollutant itself.
These leaks of methane and other associated smog-forming pollutants are linked to poor air quality, a warming climate, lost revenue for local and state governments, American energy gone to waste, and lost profits for energy companies. Nationwide the oil and gas industry is currently releasing 7 million tons of methane waste each year, representing more than $1 billion worth of wasted natural gas at today’s prices.
Fortunately, there are solutions available and ready to be deployed today to find and fix these methane leaks. Companies in the oil and gas industry and methane mitigation field are constantly developing better, more innovative and effective technologies to solve the problem of methane waste.
This is a vibrant and growing industry flourishing across the country and particularly here in Colorado – which Datu Research recognized as the No. 3 state in the nation for clusters of methane mitigation companies.
Part of the reason for this innovation is that Colorado became the first state to directly regulate this methane waste. Now, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are developing their own rules to meet a target of reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas industry 40 to 45 percent nationwide in the next decade.
It is critical that new rules allow flexibility for companies to embrace the newest technology as it becomes available and stay on the cutting edge of solutions.
Colorado-developed, manufactured and deployed technologies like the ones developed by our companies are helping capture fugitive methane emissions while also ensuring oil and gas production is done in the cleanest, most efficient, least wasteful manner possible.
Recent years have seen dramatic advances in the methane mitigation field due to dedicated efforts of entrepreneurs and other partners. As new, better and cheaper solutions come to market they could lead to a win-win for all stakeholders – for the companies that want to maximize returns, for local governments that want to maximize revenue, for the communities that want better air quality, and for all of us as we keep this potent greenhouse gas in the pipes.
It is critical that policies on methane waste reduction technology embrace the power of the marketplace and harness the best of American innovation.
Taking the lead on addressing methane waste has put Colorado on a path toward a cleaner and more efficient oil and gas industry. As EPA and BLM work to finalize their own methane reduction rules, it is critical that they offer a clear, rapid pathway for the current and forthcoming solutions that our growing industry is here to offer.
ROBERT GILHOOLY | BLOOMBERG
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