Opinion

IN RESPONSE | Coloradans shouldn’t have to pay more at the pump

Author: Colorado Politics - March 22, 2018 - Updated: March 22, 2018

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Colorado transportationAre we backsliding in our quest for more efficient vehicles? (Photo courtesy Creative Commons)

(Re: “THE PODIUM | Don’t impose cookie-cutter California air standards on Colorado,” March 15.)

As soon as next week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) will begin a process, which over the coming months, could dramatically scale back vehicle fuel economy standards. These proposed changes to EPA’s 2016 GHG emissions, followed by a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards at DOT for model years 2022-2025, would hamper growth by automotive and parts makers, cost consumers and small businesses money at the pump and put more emissions in our air.

Why are they considering changing these policies? The existing standards were agreed upon by the auto manufacturers, the federal government, labor, and the 12 states that have adopted the Clean Cars standards — which promise to promote technology improvements, create jobs, ensure that American auto manufacturers remain competitive internationally, and lower emissions.

This move makes no sense. Independent analyses show automakers are currently on track to meet the standards at lower costs than originally anticipated. Already working in Colorado and across the country, these standards are stimulating technological innovation in lightweight materials, engine design, aerodynamics, and electric vehicles — helping automakers meet the standards while saving consumers thousands in fuel costs, cleaning our air, and reducing GHG emissions.

According to a Clean Jobs Colorado report from the non-partisan business group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), our state is home to more than 2,500 jobs in advanced transportation. We can only expect these numbers to increase robustly if we continue to meet the agreed upon standards. These policies have become economic engines in Colorado, driving local job growth across multiple sectors all over the state.

Unfortunately, the Trump administration still wants to re-open review of the standards in an effort to dramatically weaken them — without making any case for how this backwards move would benefit Coloradans, or the nation.

In fact, in addition to reducing job opportunities in a growing industry like clean cars, rolling back the rule is expected to cost Coloradans over a half-billion dollars every year due to increased fuel costs alone. Weakening emissions standards will also significantly increase pollution, making it harder to meet federal health-based clean air standards.

This unnecessary change could add as much pollution as two coal fired power plants –  negating the clean air gains from Xcel’s plans to implement an early shutdown of Comanche 1 & 2 in Pueblo.

Colorado voters strongly support maintaining the current vehicle fuel efficiency standards. Polling last fall found 78% of Coloradans support requiring automakers to continue to meet strong fuel economy standards.

If we continue on the path of the agreed-upon emissions standards, new passenger cars and light trucks in 2025 will use 37 percent less fuel and emit 35 percent less GHG than cars sold in 2016. Continuing to reduce vehicle emission standards is necessary, as the transportation sector is currently the second highest source of pollution in Colorado — and could soon overtake the electricity sector, as our energy is increasingly supplied by renewable sources.

The existing emissions standards are smart business-first policies that are driving innovation and jobs, helping U.S. automakers compete globally, and saving consumers money. What’s not to like about that?

I urge President Trump to keep the existing GHG emissions & CAFE standards in place. If he weakens them, I hope Colorado will lead and take action to maintain lower fuel costs and cleaner air.

Kevin Morse
Vice President, Lever Energy Capital
Evergreen

Colorado Politics

Colorado Politics

Colorado Politics, formerly The Colorado Statesman, is the state's premier political news publication, renowned for its award-winning journalism. The publication is also the oldest political news outlet in the state, in continuous publication since 1898. Colorado Politics covers the stories behind the stories in Colorado's state Capitol and across the Centennial State, focusing on politics, public policy and elections with in-depth reporting on the people behind the campaigns — from grassroots supporters to campaign managers and the candidates and issues themselves.