Colorado Moves Forward with Clean Cars Rulemaking

Colorado’s clean air got a shot in the arm as the state took a step closer to adopting advanced clean cars rule, as the state’s air commission voted to pursue advanced pollution and mileage standards.
An electric K2 Taxi in Grand Junction, Colorado
Credit: Grand Junction Incubator

Colorado’s clean air got a shot in the arm as the state took a step closer to adopting an advanced clean cars rule. Thirteen states already have adopted advanced clean car standards that limit air pollution from cars, SUVs and light trucks.

Colorado’s step forward is so important because President Donald Trump is proposing to gut federal standards, even though his administration’s own analysis shows that doing so would increase pollution that is driving climate change, adding soot to the air and causing more dangerous smog. If adopted, the standard in Colorado will bring higher performing vehicles into the heart of the interior West and expand the share of the national market where cleaner cars are required.

Under the Clean Air Act, states that have significant air quality and local pollution issues are authorized to adopt vehicle pollution standards higher than the federal standard. The current federal standards are aligned with the state standards, under a rule adopted during the Obama administration and agreed to by both the states and the automakers. But Trump is trying to undo that agreement. If he is successful, states with higher standards will be the only defense against automakers abandoning the improvements to clean up their cars, which they have been planning and investing in for years.

That’s why state action is so important right now. Of course, there are complications. First, Trump is attempting to prohibit states from adopting these higher standards. Legal analysts think Trump is likely to fail in this bid and NRDC and many others will be fighting all the way to protect the rights of states to require cleaner cars. In the meantime, Trump’s rollback will be tied up in court for years and while that process continues states are free to adopt the advanced standards. Colorado is smart to do so.

Second, despite overwhelming public support—including more than 60 individuals testifying in-person and more than 2,200 NRDC member comments in favor of a zero-emission vehicle standard—the Colorado agency moving this rule declined to include a requirement that manufactures deliver increasing numbers of electric vehicles. Even more inexplicably, they declined to allow stakeholders, like NRDC and our Colorado partners, to propose an amendment that would allow the agency to consider this option. Still, we are confident that the pressure to deliver electric cars will only increase over time, and Colorado will ultimately enact this standard, as well.

Residents of the Centennial State have made their preference loud and clear. They want cleaner, more efficient vehicles that will mean savings at the pump, healthier air and more jobs with innovative companies. Adopting these clean car standards is good for our health, good for our environment and good for our future. We will keep fighting to make sure Coloradans have access to these most advanced vehicles.

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