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Colorado, California, Mexico Win Leadership Awards for Methane Reductions

Colorado, California, and Mexico earned awards for their efforts to reduce methane emissions from the fossil sector, while an Oregon company’s infrared camera that geo-tags methane was flagged as a breakthrough in the effort to measure fugitive emissions, at the inaugural Oil and Gas Methane Leadership Awards in Toronto earlier this month.

Colorado won praise for its pioneering work to reduce methane emissions, an endeavour it embarked upon more than a decade ago, reports the Pembina Institute, a co-presenter at the awards ceremony. From the outset, deploying “a collaborative process with industry and environmental groups, an approach that was later copied by other states including California,” Colorado “strengthened leak detection and other standards in the Denver-Front Range area.” The state continues to “conven[e] industry, environmental groups, and other stakeholders to find feasible ways to further reduce emissions.”

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California, the fourth-highest petroleum-producing state in the U.S., gained recognition for introducing “standards that will significantly cut methane emissions from new and legacy sites,” and for its “effective methane regulations for gas distribution and storage facilities.” Pembina called the latter initiative “a first of its kind.”

“By using new technology and business practices to find, fix, and prevent leakage and intentional venting, [California] utilities are expected to achieve a 40 to 45% reduction in emissions, while also making their systems safer and more resilient,” writes the Calgary-based think tank.

Mexico earned praise as an emerging leader “for its commitment to reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 to 45% by 2025, and the consequent work in developing a sector-wide regulation covering methane emissions across the supply chain.”

In its statement celebrating the awards ceremony, Pembina notes that “subnational governments such as Colorado and California play a critical role in reducing methane emissions, either by filling gaps in federal regulations or by implementing policies designed to address regional-specific issues while still meeting federal environmental outcomes.”

Those states’ standards will also “create an ambitious example for other jurisdictions as they move forward to cost-effectively reduce methane emissions by requiring industry to use feasible, proven technologies that keep more natural gas in the system.”

Duncan Kenyon, director of Pembina’s responsible fossil fuels program, said Canadian jurisdictions should take note of the sector leaders, pointing to “growing momentum from national governments, subnational governments, and industry to reduce methane emissions as a way to address greenhouse gas emissions.” Canada’s final methane regulations are expected soon, and the fossil industry has been pushing hard to delay or dilute the effort.