Colorado Air Quality Control Commission adopts zero-emission vehicle standards

More electric cars will be available to consumers but opposition argues there's no demand yet

Posted 8/26/19

Coloradans will now have more access to electric vehicles with the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission’s vote of 8 to 1 approving a zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) standard for Colorado. “This is …

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Colorado Air Quality Control Commission adopts zero-emission vehicle standards

More electric cars will be available to consumers but opposition argues there's no demand yet

Posted

Coloradans will now have more access to electric vehicles with the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission’s vote of 8 to 1 approving a zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) standard for Colorado.

“This is a big win for Coloradans all over the state,” said Jacob Smith, executive director of Colorado Communities for Climate Action. “Colorado consumers will have more, and better, electric vehicle options; Colorado communities will have better air quality; and this will have a real impact on the carbon pollution that is already taking a toll on our economy and quality of life.”

However, auto industry representatives argue that the new requirements outpace the public’s demand for electric cars.

The three-day hearing took place Aug. 13-16.

The new standards requires each automaker to have at least 5% of its sales of all light-duty motor vehicles to be sold in Colorado be zero-emission vehicles, beginning with model year 2023.

Colorado Communities for Climate Action, a coalition of 27 Colorado counties and municipalities advocating for stronger statewide climate policies, “are very sensitive to the urban-rural divide (in the state) and want to ensure that every part of Colorado benefits from the expansion of electric vehicles,” said Lafayette Mayor Pro Tem Jamie Harkins who serves as president of Colorado Communities for Climate Action, “and that consumers of every kind have access to electric vehicle models that serve their needs.”

Opponents argue there is no need to rush the zero-emission vehicle standards mandates. According to a PowerPoint presentation prepared by the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association, there is not currently a high demand for electric vehicles — one reason being that they are more expensive than comparable vehicles with internal combustion engines. It would cause a burden on dealerships to include electric vehicles in their inventory to meet a mandated electric vehicle goal “regardless of market forces,” while demand does not meet supply, the presentation states.

“Like any new technology, electric vehicles will become more affordable and better over time (and) Colorado auto dealers will eagerly meet future consumer demand for electric vehicles,” the PowerPoint presentation states. “If a ZEV mandate is ever justified, it will be when the infrastructure, technology and consumer demand are ready.”

Automobile manufacturers want zero emission vehicles to succeed, said a prehearing statement submitted jointly by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers.

However, “we do not support regulatory mandates like the proposed ZEV standard … because mandates do not build markets,” the statement said. “Such mandates are meaningless until customers embrace the technology and buy the vehicles, which is currently not happening at a meaningful rate, despite regulatory standards.”

On June 19, 2018, former Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an executive order titled “Maintaining Progress on Clean Vehicles.” It directed the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to develop a rule that establishes a Colorado Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) program. The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission adopted it on Nov. 16.

The adopted LEV standards require that new vehicles starting with the 2022 model year meet strict standards for fuel economy and exhaust emissions. The air quality commission’s newest zero emission vehicle standards are an additional component to the LEV program.

Gov. Jared Polis is a proponent of moving Colorado toward a clean energy future and on May 30 released his “roadmap to 100 percent renewable energy and bold climate action.” The roadmap includes policies and actions, and one of them is providing more zero-emission vehicles and commuting options to Coloradans.

The roadmap followed Polis signing an executive order in January to expedite the process of getting more electric vehicles on the road to support a state transition to zero-emission vehicles.

“Colorado has always been a leader in clean-tech innovation and we have no intentions of slowing down,” Polis said in a press release on the roadmap. In a statement concerning the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission’s approval of the a zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) standards, Polis added, “it’s only the beginning. Colorado must continue to reduce smog and increase consumer choice.”

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