Colo. formally adopts tougher car rules

Source: Maxine Joselow, E&E News reporter • Posted: Tuesday, November 20, 2018

In a pointed rebuke to President Trump, Colorado will officially become the 14th state to adopt California’s tougher clean car rules.

The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission voted unanimously Friday to adopt the more stringent greenhouse gas emission standards for light-duty vehicles. The 8-0 vote comes as the Trump administration moves to significantly weaken federal standards.

“While the Trump administration is undermining public health, Colorado is stepping in to protect it by ensuring our cars are the cleanest in the nation,” Noah Long, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement.

Local green groups were elated Friday on learning of the decision, which came after the commission heard testimony from a spate of consumer advocates, public health agencies, cities and counties.

“This is a big win for Colorado. This is a big win for our country,” said Danny Katz, director of the Colorado Public Interest Research Group.

Garrett Garner-Wells, director of Environment Colorado, said in a statement that Coloradans had sent a “clear message” that “the cars we drive shouldn’t hurt the people and places we love.”

“We applaud the AQCC for listening to the thousands of voices from throughout our state who want cleaner air and climate action by voting to implement low emission vehicle standards,” Garner-Wells said.

The vote makes Colorado the 14th state to adopt California’s tougher car rules — and the only one to do so after the Trump administration unveiled its proposed rollback in August.

Colorado’s opposition to Trump is underscored by its status as a traditionally purple state. It was considered a battleground state in the 2016 presidential election; Democrat Hillary Clinton beat Trump by 5 percentage points there.

Katz said he hopes other states follow Colorado’s lead. A handful of swing states where Democrats wrested control of governors’ mansions from Republicans — including Illinois, New Mexico and Michigan — are prime candidates (Climatewire, Nov. 6).

“This isn’t something that would just benefit Colorado; it’s something that every state should do,” Katz said. “Pollution knows no boundaries. We hope that every state will take notice and follow us.”

Friday’s vote focused only on whether to adopt California’s Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) program. The commission punted until next month a decision on whether to adopt the separate but related Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program.

A June executive order from Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper set last week’s vote in motion (Climatewire, June 19). Hickenlooper is set to retire in January, when he’ll be replaced by Gov.-elect Jared Polis (D), who campaigned on a promise of 100 percent renewable energy and has the strong backing of environmental groups.