Colorado adopted tougher air pollution rules for the oil and gas industry — the first in the nation to cover methane, a gas linked to climate change.

State air quality control commissioners voted 8-1 on Sunday to pass the rules with the support of leading operators Anadarko Petroleum, Noble Energy and Encana.

But they did so over the protests of much of the oil and gas industry, including the powerful Colorado Oil and Gas Association and Colorado Petroleum Association trade groups.

By passing rules aimed at reducing toxic emissions from oil and gas facilities, Colorado officials are trying to allow an energy boom while also protecting health and the environment. They needed to act because Front Range air already fails to meet federal health standards. The oil and gas industry is a growing source of volatile organic compounds that lead to the formation of ozone.

"This is in the best interests of public health," state health Director Larry Wolk said. "Methane and hydrocarbons being significant contributors to ground ozone — and climate change — anything we can do to control that is going to improve the health of our citizens — adults and kids. We have to look to the future."

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