Opinion

Kudos to Hickenlooper for his initiative on low-emission vehicles

Authors: Matt Hamilton, Elysa Hammond - July 9, 2018 - Updated: July 9, 2018

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Matt Hamilton

Colorado’s outdoor industry employs 228,000 and generates $28 billion for our economy. Gov. John Hickenlooper’s executive order on the Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) standard is critical for our continued economic growth. His action to direct adoption of this clean car standard is to be applauded — especially at a time when our federal government seems determined to roll back federal fuel efficiency standards in a move that will harm public health, consumer choice, and the economy. Companies across Colorado should be applauding Hickenlooper’s efforts to safeguard fuel efficiency because it is critical to all of our future success.

Colorado attracts and maintains a highly skilled workforce because of its desirability as a place to live. However, extreme temperatures, fires, flooding, less snow, and beetle infestation all adversely impact the qualities that make Colorado special. Reducing emissions from the transportation sector is not only within our reach, it is a powerful lever for ensuring that Colorado remains a special place to live and visit.

Nationally, the transportation sector accounts for 28 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The Colorado Department of Transportation predicts that by 2020 the transportation sector will account for 33 percent of Colorado’s greenhouse gas emissions. No matter your particular business, our collective success is built on a foundation of clean air, water and land.

With the proposed rollback of federal standards, state leadership has never been more important. With this executive order on the LEV clean-car standard, Colorado joins 13 other states and the District of Columbia in driving forward sensible policies to reduce greenhouse

Elysa Hammond

gas emissions in the transportation sector. These are the same policies that automakers and their trade association supported nationally in 2016, and they remain effective policy tools despite the industry’s change of heart.

Nine of the 13 states also adopted the Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV) program along with the LEV standard. The ZEV program requires that about 10 percent of new vehicle sales be zero emission or plug-in electric vehicles by 2025. If Colorado adopted the ZEV program, the state would see $7.6 billion in benefits by 2050 in the form of lower electricity bills and greenhouse gas emissions.

Gov. Hickenlooper’s action on clean car standards serves as an important backstop against attempts to weaken federal fuel efficiency standards. According to Ceres research, weakening the standards will undermine the global competitiveness of the U.S. auto industry. Efforts to roll back the standards also ignore consumer demand for efficient cars and could undermine existing clean vehicle technology manufacturing here in Colorado.

At this moment we must not shrink from the responsibility and opportunity to build a 21stcentury economy for our entire state — from the orchards of Palisade to the fields of Wray. Clean car standards are critical to protecting Colorado’s public health, lowering greenhouse gas emissions, and strengthening the state economy.

Reducing transportation emissions is also a critical next step for companies to meet both financial and sustainability goals. Policies like clean car standards and the Colorado Electric Vehicle Plan help companies and our suppliers continue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition Colorado to a low-carbon economy. Moreover, more efficient vehicles allow us to cut operating expenses in our company fleets, creating savings that can be reinvested in our companies and communities. That is why both Aspen and Clif Bar joined eight other Colorado businesses in supporting Gov. Hickenlooper’s adoption of the program.

We applaud Gov. Hickenlooper’s bold leadership in directing the adoption of the LEV standard, making Colorado the first state in the interior to do so. Clean car standards will protect Colorado’s environment, grow the economy, and cement the governor’s legacy — a clear win-win.

Matt Hamilton

Matt Hamilton

Matt Hamilton is the sustainability director at Aspen Skiing Company, which operates the four mountains in the Aspen Snowmass area - Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk - as well as the award-winning Ski & Snowboard Schools of Aspen Snowmass.


Elysa Hammond

Elysa Hammond

Elysa Hammond is vice president of environmental stewardship at Clif Bar & Co., an organic food company.