On Wednesday, the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission conducted final deliberations for a rulemaking hearing for regulation number 7 (Reg. 7) concerning proposed state revisions related to the ambient monitoring of emissions at oil and gas facilities, including considering the frequency of monitoring, the pollutants included in monitoring, and the public disclosure of monitoring data. These proposed provisions were intended to be strengthened in order to align with SB 19-181, a statewide Senate bill that passed in 2019 that mandates the prioritization of public safety, health, welfare, and the environment in relation to the regulation of oil and gas development. 

While many environmental and community groups had high hopes for this hearing, the Commission disappointed. Environmental groups and experts continually asked that continuous, real-time monitoring of emissions from oil and gas well pads be enforced. The commission instead decided that they will allow oil and gas corporations to write their own monitoring plans that only have to include monitoring for one of the following: VOCs, methane, or BTEX, despite the fact that all three pollutants are a hazard to public health, safety, and the environment. 

“The AQCC and Colorado are unfortunately not taking necessary action to lead the fight against climate change and toxic air pollution. Weak, flexible regulations that allow the industry to self-report and choose what is being monitored do not align with SB-181 to protect public health, safety, or the environment,” said Michaela Mujica-Steiner, Oil and Gas Campaign Coordinator for 350 Colorado. 

Over the last few weeks, some environmental groups who were parties to the hearing, such as 350 Colorado, urged the Commission to have monitoring conducted by a third party with demonstrated expertise in the monitoring of selective pollutants and that this data be made publicly available online. These recommendations from environmental groups and experts were not taken up by the Commission, and it appears that oil and gas corporations will be able to write their own monitoring plans and choose what hazardous pollutants they monitor. Following the proposed Oil and gas corporations only have to provide monthly emissions reports to the state rather than publishing this data publicly in real-time.