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A new government policy will finally force oil and gas companies to think about their pollution: 'This is a critical milestone'

This is the first comprehensive framework of its kind.

This is the first comprehensive framework of its kind.

Photo Credit: iStock

Colorado has created a protocol for measuring, reporting, and verifying methane gas from oil and gas sites. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, this is the first comprehensive framework of its kind that will be key to accurately measuring progress in tackling rising temperatures. 

The Colorado Air Pollution Control Division, part of the state's Department of Public Health, has finalized its Greenhouse Gas Intensity Verification Protocol. 

Dangerous gas pollution, like that involving methane, has been undercounted and underreported, according to the EDF. The lack of precise data makes it difficult to know accurately how bad the problem is and track progress toward addressing it.

This new protocol was born out of the Greenhouse Gas Intensity Verification Rule that  Colorado's Air Quality Control adopted in 2023. This rule requires direct measurement of methane gas releases at production sites, as EDF reports. 

The verification rule and protocol fulfill a requirement set by the GHG Intensity Program for Oil and Natural Gas Upstream Segment. This program set a standard to limit the polluting gases from upstream oil and gas operations, including drilling, exploration, and extraction. Colorado set the standards in 2021, and with gases being more accurately assessed, the state can ensure companies comply. 

A Colorado House Bill sets targets for the state to meet in reducing polluting gases from the upstream oil and gas sector. The state aims to reduce polluting gases from 2005 levels by 36% by 2025 and 60% by 2030, per the EDF. This new protocol will help track whether it is on target to meet these goals. 

The Environmental Defense Fund's blog said, "This is a critical milestone toward using real-world empirical data, and one that the [Air Pollution Control Division] can continue to improve and build upon in future years."

Oil and gas companies have a major impact on community health. A study found that, in 2016, U.S. oil and gas production caused 7,500 excess deaths, 410,000 asthma exacerbations, and 2,200 new childhood asthma cases, costing $77 billion. 

By holding the oil and gas companies accountable for the standards set, the world can reduce polluting gases, and these excess deaths and asthma cases can be preventable. 

Governments' collective efforts are making a difference. The International Energy Agency released a report predicting a steep decline in m ethane pollution due to the commitments of almost 200 countries at COP28, a United Nations climate conference.

You can also help by changing how you get involved with climate issues, such as advocating for policies like those implemented by Colorado.

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