05-22-20 CDPHE: Air Quality Control Commission approves new rules reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving emissions reporting

CDPHE: Air Quality Control Commission approves new rules reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving emissions reporting

DENVER (May 22): The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission today approved new rules that will phase out the use of hydrofluorocarbons and improve the state’s ability to accurately inventory greenhouse gas emissions.

The new rule was approved by the commission in a unanimous vote held virtually in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The vote came after two days of discussion and public comment and a lengthy stakeholder process which included utilities, industry trade groups, local governments and environmental groups, as well as public meetings in Glenwood Springs and Denver.

“When Governor Polis and the legislature gave us the directive to reduce greenhouse gases and lead the nation in the fight against climate change, we knew it was a big job,” said John Putnam, director of environmental programs at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “But we’ve approached it with dedication and scientific rigor. The new rules approved today aren’t our first steps, and they certainly won’t be our last. But phasing out some of the most potent greenhouse gases and providing the state with more data on greenhouse gas emissions is both vital and necessary.” 

Hydrofluorocarbons, one of the world’s fastest growing sources of greenhouse gases, are a group of chemical compounds often called “super pollutants” due to their high global warming potential. The rule approved by the commission will phase out their use in aerosol propellants, chillers, foams and stationary refrigerants.

Phasing out hydrofluorocarbons will result in a cumulative reduction of 1.15 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents by 2030. Colorado is now the first state in the country to adopt the hydrofluorocarbon model rule drafted by the U.S. Climate Alliance.

The emissions reporting rule will fill gaps in the federal reporting regime and provide the state with better data for greenhouse gas inventories. Higher-quality data will improve the state’s climate projections and inform policy recommendations for reducing emissions. The rule will also make more granular data available to assist local communities with climate action planning and implementation.

The rule approved by the commission will require certain categories of emitters — including industrial solid waste landfills, industrial wastewater treatment facilities, underground coal mines, local fuel distribution companies and importers and exporters of natural gas, petroleum and coal-based liquid fuels — to report their greenhouse gas emissions directly to the state regardless of the amount they emit.

The new rules are the latest in a string of aggressive policies the state has adopted over the last year in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change. These include:

  • Adopting a new zero-emission vehicle standard that expands consumer choice and access to electric vehicles.

  • New rules under SB19-181 that will reduce emissions at oil and gas sites by requiring operators to track methane emissions, enhance leak detection and repair and minimize emissions from storage tanks and pressure valves.

  • Creating a dedicated Climate Change Unit to identify and pursue effective, scientifically rigorous policies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions

  • Working with electric utilities to plan for a responsible transition away from coal-fired power plants

“Today was a good day for Coloradans,” said Clay Clarke, supervisor of the Climate Change Unit. “But we know we have to continue acting boldly on all fronts in our ongoing work to lead the fight against climate change. The magnitude of the crisis demands a state-wide effort to find innovative, effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”