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Family farmers call for tougher CAFO regulations in Farm Bill; The Midwest and Northeast brace for record high temperature in heatwave; Financial-justice advocates criticize crypto regulation bill; Ohio advocates: New rules strengthen protections for sexual-assault victims.

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The RNC kicks off its election integrity effort, Democrats sound a warning bell about conservatives' Project 2025, and Republicans suggest funding cuts to jurisdictions with legal cases against Trump.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

Plugging Methane Leaks Key to Improving CO Air Quality

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Thursday, April 28, 2022   

Smaller or marginal wells account for just 6% of the nation's oil and gas production, but are responsible for half of all methane pollution in the U.S., according to a new report published in the journal Nature Communications.

More than 30,000 marginal wells across Colorado, Utah and Wyoming produce 200,000 tons of methane pollution each year.

Laurie Anderson, Colorado field organizer for Moms Clean Air Force, said methane is a major driver of climate change because it is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere.

"Here in Colorado we're seeing increased drought and heat resulting in increased wildfires that threaten our communities, even in the middle of winter," Anderson observed. "Reigning in methane pollution is critical for keeping our planet habitable for our children and grandchildren."

She added it is also a public health issue. Colorado's air quality was recently downgraded from serious to severe by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for ground-level ozone levels far above limits set under the Clean Air Act.

Oil and gas emissions are a major contributor to ozone, especially along the Front Range, which put vulnerable communities, including small children and older adults, at risk.

Industry groups have argued inspections and equipment upgrades needed to prevent waste are too costly for smaller operators.

Jon Goldstein, senior director of regulatory and legislative affairs for the Environmental Defense Fund, countered smaller wells usually are not owned by mom-and-pop operations.

"The vast majority of these wells belong to large, often multinational oil and gas companies that have more than enough capital to invest in these wells," Goldstein argued. "It's just a matter of making sure, through regulations, that they do so."

The study found smaller wells lose enough methane, the primary component of natural gas, to meet the energy needs of more than 3.6 million U.S. homes annually. Colorado recently adopted rules to tackle methane emissions including marginal well sites, and Anderson said the EPA should follow suit.

"Colorado is making great progress on limiting methane pollution, and we need the EPA to follow Colorado's lead," Anderson urged. "By ensuring regular monitoring at all smaller high-polluting and leak-prone wells and upgrading equipment to eliminate leaks."

Disclosure: The Environmental Defense Fund contributes to our fund for reporting on Energy Policy, Environment, Environmental Justice, and Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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