Electric cars in Denver, Colorado. Image courtesy of Kyle Field | CleanTechnica.

Colorado Adopts Clean Cars Standards, But Leaves Benefits On The Table

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In a win for the climate, public health, and Coloradan’s pocketbooks, Colorado officials have adopted a new Clean Cars policy, ensuring that residents will have access to more electric and hybrid vehicles.

In 2022, transportation was the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions in the state and a leading source of toxic air pollution. Transitioning to clean, electric vehicles is a key solution to cutting these emissions. Colorado’s Clean Cars policy will:

  • Keep up with tremendous consumer demand and expand resident’s options for clean vehicle models
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dangerous air pollution like nitrogen oxide (NOx)
  • Reduce the cost of vehicle ownership and expand the clean economy locally
  • Make the electricity grid more reliable and lower utility bills for everyone, even households without an electric vehicle
  • Signal to auto manufacturers that clean vehicles are here to stay.

As adopted, the new policy requires increasing numbers of new clean cars to be sold in the state each year, until 82% of new vehicles sold in the state are electric or plug-in hybrid by 2032. Advocates, including NRDC, pushed for a complete version of the program, which reaches 100% of new vehicles sold by 2035, as adopted by 8 other states to-date.

While the Air Quality Control Commission ultimately opted to adopt a partial rule through 2032, the state made it clear that it still intends to help facilitate a zero-emission vehicle transition will consider full adoption of the rule no later than 2029.

Colorado’s new Clean Cars standard will require an increasing percentage of sales of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles through the year 2032 with 82% of new vehicles sold. The State committed to re-evaluating the opportunity to extend the standard to reach 100% of new vehicle sales.

While Colorado may adopt the full rule in the future, Colorado’s current decision to end the rule a few years early leaves many benefits on the table. Analysis by ERM found that there are more than $20 billion in additional public health and climate benefits with a full program through 2035 compared to a partial adoption through 2032. Every additional year of a Clean Cars program would avoid additional premature deaths and hospital visits through abated nitrogen oxide and particulate matter emissions. And since vehicles can stay on the road for 15 or more years, the sooner that Colorado achieves 100% new zero-emission vehicle sales, the sooner all vehicles on Colorado’s road will be zero-emission — helping the state achieve their goals.

Colorado is ready for clean cars

Coloradans are buying electric vehicles as fast as they are made, and zero-emission vehicle sales were 10.5 percent of new car sales in 2022 — and reached 12% new sales in the first half of 2023. State programs and utilities are working to build a robust network of charging stations to keep pace, including in public spaces, fast charging for on-the-go, and through rebates for home charger installation.

Electric vehicles save drivers money in reduced fuel and maintenance costs, and federal, state and utility incentives combine to make EVs more affordable than ever. Coloradans are eligible for up to a $7,500 federal tax credit, a $5,000 Colorado tax credit, and potentially additional credits including from a buyer’s utility.

The state’s new Clean Cars program will ensure that Colorado residents have access to even more models of EVs to meet everyone’s needs, from SUVs to pickup trucks, minivans, and compact affordable models.

While we look forward to a future rulemaking for Colorado to adopt the full rule, Colorado took an important step today by adopting new Clean Car standards that will help to provide significant benefits to the state and its residents, and we thank the Air Quality Control Commission for paving the way towards a clean car future. Now, we look towards the other six states that currently have ongoing Clean Cars rulemaking processes — New Mexico, Delaware, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Maine — and call on them to maximize the benefits of a clean transportation future by adopting full clean cars programs.

Republished from NRDC Expert Blog. By Kathy Harris, Senior Advocate, Clean Vehicles and Fuels, Climate & Clean Energy Program, Alana Miller, Director, Colorado Climate Policy, Climate & Clean Energy Program

Related: Colorado targets 82% EV sales by 2032 but delays decision on full gas-powered car phaseout

Featured image courtesy of Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

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