Colorado Governor Orders Low Emissions Vehicle Standards

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Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper issued an executive order on June 19 directing the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to develop a rule to establish a low emissions vehicle program for the state which incorporates the requirements of the California LEV program. It also directs the DPHE to propose that rule to the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission during its August 2018 meeting for possible adoption into the Colorado Code of Regulations by December 30, 2018.

carbon emissions Colorado
Credit: City of Denver Public Health Department

“Colorado has a choice. This executive order calls for the state to adopt air quality standards that will protect our quality of life in Colorado,” said governor Hickenlooper at the signing ceremony for the executive order. “Low emissions vehicles are increasingly popular with consumers and are better for our air. Every move we make to safeguard our environment is a move in the right direction.”

The executive order is designed to counter the decision by the Environmental Protection Agency to roll back vehicle emissions standards agreed to by the EPA and the nation’s auto manufacturers in 2012. It cites the authority of the Clean Air Act for states to impose higher clean air standards for vehicles than those imposed by federal regulations. EPA administration Scott Pruitt has said he intends to challenge that provision. Any such challenge is sure to lead to legal action by California and the other 12 states and the District of Columbia that follow its transportation emissions program.

A recent report by the city of Denver and county of Boulder highlights the advantages to Colorado residents from higher emissions standards, says Conservation Colorado in an e-mail to CleanTechnica. The report says that Denver is ranked the 11th most polluted city in the nation for ozone levels. Vehicle emissions are one of the largest contributors to ozone formation. It claims the higher clean car standards could save Colorado residents between $16 million and $37 million in health care costs by the year 2040, reduce the number of work days lost due to illness from air pollutant emissions, and save $260 million per year in social costs from long term damage caused by carbon dioxide emissions.

The Union of Concerned Scientists says the emissions standards enacted in 2012 have been the single most effective federal policy for reducing oil consumption and lowering carbon emissions. Rolling back those standards would cost consumers money at the pump and raise the amount of US carbon emissions from the transportation sector.

Environmental advocates are delighted by the governor’s action. “Transportation is the number two source of greenhouse gas emissions in Colorado — and number one source of emissions in the nation. Adopting clean car standards means fewer bad air days and a better quality of life for citizens across our state,” says Garrett Garner-Wells, director of Environment Colorado.

Noah Long, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council adds, “With the Trump administration abdicating leadership on cleaning up tailpipe pollution and saving consumers money on gas, states need advanced vehicle standards to ensure their citizens get to drive the cleanest, most affordable cars on the market. This action will help ensure Coloradans still get clean air and cleaner cars.”

Conservatives Reactionaries will be less than thrilled, however. They would happily see their children lead shorter, less healthy lives just as long as federal regulations are reduced. And besides, there are still questions about Hillary’s e-mails and Obama’s birth certificate. It’s important to keep one’s priorities straight. What good is living longer if you have to do it under the bootheel of oppressive government regulations?

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." You can follow him on Substack and LinkedIn but not on Fakebook or any social media platforms controlled by narcissistic yahoos.

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