Let Colorado take the lead in setting higher standards for clean air
Authors: Chris Hansen, Faith Winter - August 21, 2018 - Updated: August 21, 2018
When Gov. Hickenlooper signed an executive order this summer directing the Air Quality Control Commission to adopt Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) standards, he put down a marker for Colorado and our commitment to clean air, consumer choice, and a robust economy. Governor Hickenlooper demonstrated leadership for our state, reacting to what was then a threat and is now a reality, that the Trump administration and special interests would unravel emissions standards that were set more than six years ago and reaffirmed last year.
American auto manufacturers were on track to meet the current standards, which will reduce harmful carbon pollution and other emissions from a sector that accounts for almost a third of our nation’s green house gas emissions. Gov. Hickenlooper showed Colorado’s commitment to progress and joined a bipartisan group of states that have decided to exercise their rights to protect their citizens and fight for cleaner air.
The Clean Air Act of 1970 – which was signed into law by a Republican president, demonstrating that a commitment to our environment doesn’t have to be a partisan issue – allows states to either comply with federal vehicle emissions standards or to adopt one alternative set of standards. The last set of federal standards were adopted with support from auto-manufacturers in large part to align with the state standards, so that they would have one clear standard. President Trump’s proposed rollback of the federal standards would result in two standards once again, unless the federal government forces the states to adopt the federal standard – which would be a blatant intrusion on a right of the states that has been respected by Presidents of both parties for decades.
Every year, technology becomes smarter, more affordable, and more accessible. When adopting new automobile emissions standards, the Clean Air Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to consider issues of “technological feasibility, cost, and available lead time,” which it did when it adopted the current standards for vehicles. A 2017 report by the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment concluded that plugging in an electric vehicle in 2016 resulted in substantially less pollution and 43 percent less carbon pollution than a traditional vehicle. We also know that these clean car standards will move the state towards its goal of a 26 percent reduction in carbon pollution emissions by 2025. Why settle for something less than what we know we can do?
It’s clear that this is an issue where the states will have to continue to take the lead. Gov. Hickenlooper is once again pursuing the Colorado Way – insisting on continuing improvement of our air quality, keeping costs to consumers low, and directing a process that includes public input and participation from a broad group of stakeholders. In fact, the average new car owner in the state will save hundreds of dollars per year in fuel costs as higher efficiency vehicles come onto the market. These commonsense standards help people save money at the pump, protect the air we breathe and preserve the precious environment that our economy and our people depend on.
Colorado prides itself on achieving big successes with collaboration from groups who may not naturally work together. Our diverse economy is thriving. Businesses, entrepreneurs and start-ups are moving to Colorado because we foster innovation with the goal of doing things better, cheaper, and cleaner. Coloradans should not have to settle for less when our people and our companies consistently demonstrate they can do more.
Our state is at a literal crossroad: Colorado can choose to strive for cleaner air by adopting standards that are already in place, or we can choose to be complacent as the federal government in Washington and special interests puts our nation in reverse, jeopardizing our health, our air and our precious lands in the process. We support our Governor and his leadership on this issue, and it’s critical that we continue fighting for commonsense protections in the legislature for our clean air, clean water and our Colorado way of life.