EPA Issues Final Methane Standards for New Oil and Gas Sources

USEPAEngineering360 News Desk, May, 23, 2016

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized standards designed to reduce methane, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and toxic air emissions from new, modified and reconstructed sources in the oil and natural gas industry.

The agency is starting the process to control emissions from existing oil and gas sources by issuing for public comment an Information Collection Request (ICR). This will require companies to provide the information that will be necessary for EPA to reduce methane emissions from these sources as well.

The agency’s actions are part of the federal government’s strategy under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to achieve the goal of cutting methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 to 45% from 2012 levels by 2025. EPA says that, by 2025, the standards for new and modified sources are expected to reduce methane emissions by 510,000 short tons, ozone-forming VOCs by 210,000 tons and air toxics, such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene, by 3,900 tons.

After reviewing more than 900,000 comments received on its August 2015 proposal, EPA updated a number of aspects in the final rule, including removing an exemption for low-production wells and requiring leak-monitoring surveys twice as often at compressor stations, which have the potential for significant emissions. The final rule also provides companies a pathway to align the final standards with comparable state-specific requirements they may have.

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New data will help Colorado study health effects of fracking

Diagram of Fracking

Diagram of Fracking

New data on air pollution from fracking wells in Colorado will be a big help in assessing whether the emissions are harmful to human health, state officials say

By DAN ELLIOTT, Associated Press – June 14, 2016

DENVER (AP) — New data on air pollution from fracking wells in Colorado will be a big help in assessing whether the emissions are harmful to human health, state officials say.

A three-year study released Tuesday measured methane — a greenhouse gas — and ozone-causing compounds that were released from new natural gas wells in western Colorado.

The research, by Colorado State University professor Jeff Col

lett, didn’t measure the emissions’ health effects, but state officials will use the data in computer modeling to assess the risks, said Mike Van Dyke of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

“This study is incredibly useful,” said Van Dyke, chief of environmental epidemiology, occupational health and toxicology for the health department.

The state expects to hire outside researchers by the end of next month to begin modeling the human health risks, using the western Colorado research as well as data from a second study Collett is conducting at wells near the state’s urban Front Range.

The state risk study is expected to be completed in January 2018.

Collett’s study is the first time researchers have been able say with certainty they were measuring pollution only from drilling operations and not from other sources, Van Dyke said.

Continue reading story at The US News & World Report

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Heavy hitters expected to jump in for potential Colorado fight on proposed oil, gas ballot initiatives

DJ Basin Oil Drilling Rig - Image Credit - Encana Inc.

DJ Basin Oil Drilling Rig – Image Credit – Encana Inc.

Sharon Dunn – Greeley Tribune – June 11, 2016

As they say in sports, it could all come down to this one game.

Colorado’s November election could be a pivotal one for the oil and gas industry if voters are presented with questions to limit drilling in the state.

“One thing I’m not clear about is how this will run headlong in a collision (course) with the whole business of property rights. How far can they go in the name of local control, or state control? … I’m not sure you can amend a state constitution to obliterate a property right.— John Straayer, a political science professor at Colorado State University and political analyst

From the money the election would command, to the potential legal questions they could pose, to the implications for drilling across the country, a lot will be riding on petitioners’ abilities to collect signatures to place four issues on the ballot.

The initiatives would limit oil and gas drilling in local communities or give governing bodies rights to curtail such activities within their borders — measures that are sure to command millions of dollars in campaign spending. Many think this could easily be a $200 million election issue in Colorado this year.

“This will be one of the biggest environmental fights in the country this year,” said Lauren Petrie, Rocky Mountain region director for Food and Water Watch, a Washington, D.C.,-based group advocating for safety in food production and oil and gas production. “All eyes will be on the outcome for these Colorado ballot initiatives.”

Continue reading story at The Greeley Tribune

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USGS Estimates 66 Trillion Cubic Feet of Natural Gas in Colorado’s Mancos Shale Formation

A map showing the Mancos Shale and the USGS assessment units within the formation.

A map showing the Mancos Shale and the USGS assessment units within the formation.

June 8, 2016, This is the second-largest assessment of potential shale & tight gas resources that the USGS has ever conducted.

Note: in early 2013, a Mancos Shale study by the Colorado Mesa University stratigraphically calibrated the Upper Mancos, Prairie Canyon, Niobrara and Lower Mancos.

The Mancos Shale in the Piceance Basin of Colorado contains an estimated mean of 66 trillion cubic feet of shale natural gas, 74 million barrels of shale oil and 45 million barrels of natural gas liquids, according to an updated assessment by the U.S. Geological Survey. This estimate is for undiscovered, technically recoverable resources.

The previous USGS assessment of the Mancos Shale in the Piceance Basin was completed in 2003 as part of a comprehensive assessment of the greater Uinta-Piceance Province, and estimated 1.6 trillion cubic feet of shale natural gas. Continue reading “USGS Estimates 66 Trillion Cubic Feet of Natural Gas in Colorado’s Mancos Shale Formation” »

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Ballot proposal would ban oil & gas production from 90% of Colorado, says report

From COGCC Report - Example of 2500’ buffer (red areas) for both occupied structure AND area of special concern setback for 12 sections in Weld County. Existing active wells are shown in purple

From COGCC Study on Initiative 78 – Example of 2500’ buffer (red areas) for both occupied structure AND
area of special concern setback for 12 sections in Weld County. Existing active
wells are shown in purple

Denver Business Journal – May 27, 2016

A proposed ballot measure, No. 78, that calls for a mandatory 2,500-foot buffer zone around oil and gas operations, would, if approved by voters, effectively choke off oil and gas development across about 90 percent of the state of Colorado, according to a study released Friday afternoon by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

Colorado currently ranks seventh in the nation for crude oil production, and sixth nationwide for natural gas production.

In the five counties that make up most of the oil and gas production in Colorado, the percentage of land where new oil and gas development would be banned is even higher under Amendment 78’s new wider setback zone, according to the COGCC’s study.

The COGCC is the state agency charged with regulating Colorado’s oil and gas operations. Continue reading “Ballot proposal would ban oil & gas production from 90% of Colorado, says report” »

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Colorado Supreme Court rules state law trumps local bans on fracking

Horizontal Drilling Rig in Weld County Colorado - Credit Niobrara News

Horizontal Drilling Rig in Weld County Colorado – Credit Niobrara News

State’s high court calls Longmont, Fort Collins measures on fracking “invalid and unenforceable”

By Bruce Finley – The Denver Post – May 2, 2016

The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday blocked a push by Front Range cities to limit oil and gas development near people, ruling state power to promote industry trumps local bans, which the court deemed “invalid and unenforceable.”

The court rejected Fort Collins’ five-year moratorium on fracking within the city limits. Justices concluded that measure “operationally conflicts” with state law and therefore, under well-established principles, is pre-empted by state rules that allow some drilling in neighborhoods. They also rejected Longmont’s 2012 ban on fracking and disposal of fracking waste in the city because it “materially impedes” state power.

It is a landmark decision redefining Colorado’s landscape for producing fossil fuels — one that ignited passions on both sides at a time of intensifying political controversy.

Colorado has emerged as a leading oil and gas producer with more than 50,000 active wells and more than 45,000 inactive wells. While companies want to be able to increase production, residents are revving ballot campaigns to amend the constitution or give locals more power to regulate hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the industry’s method of rocketing sand, millions of gallons of water and chemicals deep underground to accelerate extraction of oil and gas. Continue reading “Colorado Supreme Court rules state law trumps local bans on fracking” »

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4 anti-oil & gas ballot proposals cleared to gather signatures in Colorado

DJ Basin Oil Drilling Rig - Image Credit - Encana Inc.

DJ Basin Oil Drilling Rig – Image Credit – Encana Inc.

A total of four ballot proposals that opponents say would, if approved by voters, scale back oil and gas operations in Colorado, have received the go-ahead to collect signatures in a bid to be on the 2016 ballot.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams on Tuesday said supporters could start gathering signatures for Initiative No. 75, a proposed constitutional amendment to allow local governments to regulate oil and gas development.

The question of which level of authority — local governments or state agencies — can best oversee the multi-billion dollar industry in Colorado has been a source of controversy for years.

Williams also announced Tuesday that supporters of Initiative No. 63, the “right to a healthy environment,” could also begin collecting signatures.

To be placed on the November 2016 ballot, supporters of ballot initiatives need to gather 98,492 valid signatures and deliver them to the Colorado Secretary of States office by August 8.

A third proposal, No. 78, was cleared to gather signatures April 8.
No. 78 would expand Colorado’s existing buffer zones surrounding oil and gas operations from 500 feet to 2,500 feet, a move opponents say, if approved by voters, would ban drilling across a wide area of the state.

Those three proposals, No. 63, 75 and 78, are supported by Coloradans Resisting Extreme Energy Development (CREED), which describes itself as a grassroots organization that “will challenge the oil and gas industry’s ability to put hazardous industrial development near neighborhoods, schools and waterways.”

Continue reading story at The Denver Business Journal

 

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Governor, industry urge cautious hand in regulating oil, gas

Colorado State Capitol

Colorado State Capitol

Collaboration and negotiation allowed Colorado to draw up oil and gas regulations that protect the public and the environment while encouraging a lucrative state industry, the governor and the president of an industry group say.

Gov. John Hickenlooper and American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard talked Thursday about regulation, the future of the industry and the possibility of limits on hydraulic fracturing or fracking.

Hickenlooper — a Democrat and a former petroleum geologist — and Gerard appeared together at an industry forum in Denver. Gerard discussed the industry later in an interview with The Associated Press. Here are some of the issues they discussed:

RESTRICTIONS ON FRACKING:

Proposals to allow local governments to ban fracking, or to increase the minimum distance between new wells and buildings, could expose the state to expensive lawsuits, Hickenlooper said.

Mineral rights are considered property, and imposing rules that effectively keep drilling companies from getting to oil and gas would amount to an illegal “taking,” he said. “We’ve got to be cautious here about what we’re doing,” he said.

Some groups are pushing to get measures on the November ballot that could restrict fracking. Gerard said Colorado already has a process in place to discuss and change the rules, if needed. “We believe the process is working. We believe it’s unnecessary to put anything on the statewide ballot,” he said.

Continue reading article at The Wichita Eagle

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