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Colorado adopts California clean car standards, eyes zero emissions policy

Denver traffic ( Photo: Shutterstock )

Forget about LEV. It’s all about ZEV.

Tim Jackson, the president of the Colorado Auto Dealers Association, delivered this pithy response after being asked how his group was handling the news that Colorado had adopted California’s low emissions vehicle (LEV) standard.

This past Friday, the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission enacted an executive order by Gov. John Hickenlooper ramping up fuel efficiency requirements and reducing tail pipe pollution.

Under the rules, new vehicles sold in Colorado must average 36 miles per gallon (15 kilometers per liter) by the year 2025. That’s about 10 miles per gallon over the existing standard.

The LEV action helps Colorado meet its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2025. The decision also pre-empts the proposed weakening of federal emissions standards by the Trump administration.  Currently, the California and federal standards are the same.

Industry groups opposed the LEV rule making. They say manufacturers are already moving in the direction of clean cars, and the regulations will only drive up the cost of vehicle ownership.

But critics like Jackson are also resigned to the rule. Now they are gearing up for the next battle: Air quality regulators’ aim to make Colorado the 11th state in the nation to adopt California’s standard for zero emission vehicles (ZEVs), mandating the sale of electric vehicles.

The Air Quality Commission has requested that a ZEV rule be presented in December.

 “We will be advocating against that,” said Jackson. “As much outrage as there was on LEV, there is much more on ZEV.”

Jeremy Neustifter, an air quality planner for Colorado’s Air Pollution Control Division, declined to say whether ZEV rule making would show up on the Commission’s December agenda. He did note that the midterm elections flipped the Colorado Senate and General Assembly from Republican to Democratic majorities. The ZEV standard can be taken up by legislature or the Air Quality commission, Neustifter said.

The California ZEV standard requires automakers to boost sales of electric vehicles to 8 percent of new sales by 2025.

Colorado is the 13th state to adopt California LEV rules. If Trump succeeds in rolling back the federal regulations, OEMs could end up building vehicles for two markets: states that have kept the more stringent fuel efficiency requirements in place, and the rest of the country.

Meanwhile, the Golden State continues to push the envelope on clean vehicle legislation.

The day before last week’s Colorado announcement, the California Air Resources Board stated that, starting for year-model 2022 vehicles, heavy-duty engines will need to store data related to emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and fuel consumption. Regulators will use the data to “identify vehicles with excess smog-related and greenhouse gas emission,” CARB said in a press release.


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Linda Baker, Staff Writer

Linda Baker is a FreightWaves staff reporter based in Portland, Oregon. Her beat includes early-stage VC, freight-tech, mobility and West Coast emissions regulations.

One Comment

  1. Colorado, the other libtarded California. If they’re asking for it, they’ll get it…. Then, when their economy becomes unsustainable under insanely heavy regulation, there’ll be a mass exodus from Colorado too just like Cali has been experiencing for 15 years or longer…