Colorado's will be part of a legal challenge to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposed rollback of methane emissions requirements for the oil and gas industry, the state's attorney general says.
The EPA says the proposed changes would "remove unnecessary regulatory duplication" and save the industry $17 million to $19 million annually by reducing compliance costs.
"The primary proposal also would rescind emissions limits for methane from the production and processing segments of the industry but would keep emissions limits for ozone-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs)," the EPA said in a statement.
The rule change comes after the Trump administration in March 2017 ordered agencies to review regulations that "burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources and appropriately suspend, revise, or rescind those that unduly burden the development of domestic energy resources."
Colorado's Attorney General Phil Weiser hit back with a statement, calling the rollback "misguided."
"The EPA's proposal to reverse these standards to curb methane emissions is misguided and ignores the requests from the oil and gas industry to keep them in place," Weiser said. "Methane emissions don't stop at state lines. As such, Colorado has a strong interest in regulating the release of this harmful greenhouse gas on a national level."
"To protect our state from the harmful effects of climate change and to protect air quality, Colorado will be part of a legal challenge to the EPA's rollback of the methane standards," he added.
Many environmental groups oppose the rollback, noting that methane emissions are a key contributor to climate change.
"This proposal is irresponsible, dangerous and out of step with calls from oil and gas industry leaders to preserve and strengthen federal methane rules," said Environmental Defense Fund Vice President Matt Watson. "Without a strong federal framework in place, the case for natural gas evaporates."
The Western Energy Alliance, an oil and natural gas industry trade association, said that despite the rollbacks, the EPA will continue to regulate methane.
Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Alliance, told The Center Square that the Trump administration is following the Clean Air Act, which was twisted by the Obama administration "in such a way that made methane regulation overly complex and convoluted in its second rule."
"This proposed rule will correct that overreach and get back to an approach that directly measures methane captured and removed from the atmosphere, rather than using the flawed Social Cost of Carbon calculations that had been widely discredited," Sgamma said.