The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) began flyovers this week, completing the state’s first airborne survey designed to monitor for methane and other emissions at major oil and gas sites in the Denver-Julesburg Basin. The initial flight is the first of many scheduled for 2021.
The state is funding the aerial surveys with money from a settlement between the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) and Kerr McGee related to a 2017 explosion and resulting loss of lives in Firestone.
“Between these aerial survey flights, a new mobile monitoring van we’ll take possession of in August and enhanced satellite and remote sensing tools, we’re bringing precision technology to the task of monitoring for emissions,” said Garry Kaufman, Director of CDPHE’s Air Pollution Control Division.
The department’s aerial survey work will have four phases, and the department is working with the University of Arizona, Colorado State University, Scientific Aviation (a private company based in Boulder), the University of Colorado, and the University of Maryland. CDPHE and COGCC will also support the aerial work with ground monitoring and inspections to verify data and monitor emissions at smaller operations.
“We are committed to deploying advanced technology and the most capable tools to get a clear picture of methane and other emissions in the state,” said Shaun McGrath, CDPHE Director of Environmental Health & Protection. “The resulting data will inform how we approach regulating oil and gas operations and other emitting sites in Colorado.”
The boundaries of the aerial survey project are available online in this image, and the survey area is within the green border.