Colorado is joining 13 other states and the District of Columbia in adopting Low Emission Vehicle Standards, requiring new vehicles starting with the 2022 model year to meet strict standards for fuel …
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Colorado Air Quality Control Commission — www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/apcd
Colorado Communities for Climate Action — cc4ca.org
Clear the Air Foundation — cleartheairfoundation.org/
Colorado is joining 13 other states and the District of Columbia in adopting Low Emission Vehicle Standards, requiring new vehicles starting with the 2022 model year to meet strict standards for fuel economy and exhaust emissions.
The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission’s vote took place on Nov. 16. One of the nine commissioners was recused from the vote, and it passed 8-0.
“This is a win for the state,” said Anita Seitz, a Westminster city councilor and the president of Colorado Communities for Climate Action, a coalition of Colorado governments that advocates for state and federal policies to protect Colorado’s climate. “Colorado has been a leader in this area, and it’s imperative that we continue. This is what our residents demand.”
The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission’s decision will provide Coloradans with cleaner air and reduce the impacts of climate change, said Jacob Smith, the executive director of Colorado Communities for Climate Action.
“The transportation sector is the largest contributor of carbon pollution,” Smith said. “By steadily improving fuel economy standards, we will continue to reduce damaging carbon pollution.”
While advocates of the low-emission standards argue that it will provide consumers with savings at the fuel pump, opponents argue that it will cause a hardship on Colorado’s new vehicle buyer.
In a press release, Tim Jackson, the president and CEO of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association, said the biggest negative impact will be on working families and the economically disadvantaged.
Jackson estimates that the low-emission vehicle standards will “add a $2,110 tax to the sticker price of average new vehicles in Colorado,” and that the tax amount will be even higher on “the SUVs and trucks that Coloradans prefer.”
“The commission seemed to have made its mind up before this rulemaking process even started — rapidly pushing though this complex rule that will cost our state and citizens billions of dollars without taking the necessary time to fully evaluate its impacts,” Jackson said in the press release. “Unfortunately, it is Colorado’s consumers who will ultimately pay the price for this misguided decision.”
One thing that the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association and its members are already doing to make progress for cleaner air is the work of the Clear the Air Foundation. The foundation works with state automobile dealers to donate the vehicles, traded in by consumers, that emit dirty emissions and recycles them.
“When you consider that the exhaust from just one 15-year-old vehicle is equal to that of 100 new vehicles on the road today, new car dealers can put 350,000 new vehicles on the road and still have a net improvement in air quality,” said Bill Hellman, chair of the Clear the Air Foundation and owner of Hellman Motor Company in Delta. “Colorado’s new automobile dealers have been walking the talk (and) making concrete progress to clear Colorado’s air.”
The nation’s clean car standards, trailblazed by California, were set nationally in 2012 under President Barack Obama. These standards require automakers to ensure that motor vehicles including cars, pickup trucks and SUVs are more fuel-efficient and achieve ongoing improvements, including lower emissions.
On Aug. 2, President Donald Trump’s administration announced plans to roll back emissions and fuel-economy standards for car model years 2022-25 and attempt to override the ability for states to set their own stricter standards to protect clean air.
However, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an executive order on June 19 titled “Maintaining Progress on Clean Vehicles.” It directed the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to develop a rule that establishes a Colorado Low Emission Vehicle program, then propose it to the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission for possible adoption. With the commission’s Nov. 16 decision, this program will be adopted into the Colorado Code of Regulations. Ultimately, beginning with model year 2022, Colorado will have the standards already in place, and it will protect Colorado from having to adhere to Trump’s proposed emissions rollbacks.
The Colorado Air Pollution Control Division estimates that the Trump administration’s proposed rollback on emission standards would result in an additional 30.38 million tons of carbon pollution between 2022-2031, Smith said.
“We are talking about a huge amount of dirty emissions,” he said. “By adopting the Low Emission Vehicle Standards, we will prevent the same amount of carbon pollution in Colorado that we’d get in a decade from two of our largest coal power plants now running in Pueblo.”
The next step Colorado needs to move forward with for cleaner air is adopting zero-emission vehicle standards, Seitz said. Zero-emission vehicles run on power sources such as electricity and hydrogen fuel cells.
If adopted, this would “mandate an increasing percentage of all light- and medium-duty motor vehicles sold in Colorado to be Zero Emission Vehicles,” states the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s website. “The Air Pollution Control Division is exploring approaches to a proposed rule that would impose sales quotas on vehicle manufacturers, thus increasing the percentage of zero emission vehicles in Colorado.”
Consideration of the zero-emission vehicle standards is expected to begin relatively soon, Smith added, and could wrap up as early as this spring.
“Combine our air pollution problem with our outdoor Colorado lifestyle, and parents across the state want to see real improvement in our air quality,” said Jen Clanahan, the “head mom” for Colorado Moms Know Best, a statewide grassroots group that advocates for children’s health by protecting Colorado’s open spaces and clean air. “Several other states follow the Low Emission Vehicle Standards, and we believe our children deserve those same protections afforded to kids in other states.”
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