Colorado Moves to Adopt Clean Car Standards

Colorado is making news by standing up to the Trump administration’s efforts to dramatically roll back highly popular clean car and fuel economy standards. Governor Hickenlooper just issued an Executive Order initiating a process to adopt an advanced clean cars program. The program would protect residents from the dirtier air, climate pollution, and higher gas bills that Trump’s rollback would cause. By adopting such a program, Colorado would join 13 other clean car states -- representing more than 36% of the U.S. auto market -- that have the most protective standards in the country. 

Governor Hickenlooper discussing Colorado's Climate Action Plan (E2 and The Alliance Center, 6/14/2018)

Coloradans Stand to Benefit from Reduced Pollution and Save on Fuel

Colorado has a tremendous amount to gain from adopting advanced clean car standards. This action would ensure that Centennial State residents continue to see cleaner and more efficient cars, SUVs, and pick-up trucks while allowing the state to continue the vital task of improving its air quality.

Cleaner cars would also help keep people safe from a hotter, drier, smokier future in Colorado. A new NRDC report finds that pollution from tailpipes is contributing to more dangerous summer heat, which threatens Colorado’s rapidly growing population of people who work and play outside, as well as older adults. Cutting carbon pollution is critical for public health in Colorado because increasing wildfire smoke and smog will likely impose an additional burden on the more than 487,000 Coloradans living with asthma—who already pay an average of nearly $2,500 a year in asthma-related medical costs.

With the number of Coloradans booming and most of these people spending more time behind the wheel, Colorado is already suffering from more traffic and tailpipe pollution. Trump’s planned rollbacks would result in dirtier, less fuel-efficient vehicles available for purchase in Colorado. That means consumers would have to spend an additional $4,200 to fuel up a new vehicle purchased in 2025 over its lifetime, according to an analysis commissioned by the Environmental Defense Fund.

A report released by Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), a national, nonpartisan group of clean energy business owners and investors, also shows that Colorado has 57,000 Coloradans working in clean energy-related industries. This figure includes 2,700 workers building the cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars needed to meet the tighter safeguards. Adopting the standards may create more of these well-paying jobs in the state. A second report by E2 also shows the state will see an increase in jobs and economic growth if it adopts an advanced clean car standards, thanks to the reductions in gasoline expenditures and consumers having more money in their pockets.   

Next Steps

The Governor has called on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to propose clean car standards in August for the Air Quality Control Commission to consider. That way, the commission can complete the process and adopt the standards by the end of the year. NRDC, together with a strong coalition of public health, businesses, environmental, and other organizations, will be following this process closely. Colorado should move forward with advanced clean cars rules that will ensure Coloradans get access to the cleanest cars, trucks and SUVs available.

About the Authors

Simon Mui

Senior Scientist, Climate & Clean Energy Program

Noah Long

Director, Interior West and Northwest, Climate & Clean Energy Program

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