Colorado Jumps on Path to Match California’s Zero Emission Mandate

Hickenlooper signs executive order to implement LEV standard.

by on Jul.19, 2018

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper's recent executive order put the state on the track to match California's ZEV mandate.

Colorado, thanks to an executive order by the state’s Democratic governor, is on the path to becoming a ZEV state, joining California and nine other states that are using their authority to push cleaner and more efficient vehicles.

First, he wants the state to adopt California’s rules for becoming a low-emission vehicle state by the end of this year. This is in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s move to weaken emissions requirements.

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The California Air Resources Board (CARB) manages the ZEV program, although it has also been adopted by Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and the District of Columbia and now Colorado. Three other states, Washington, New Mexico and Pennsylvania have adopted similar rules.

Special provisions in the federal Clean Air Act allow states to either follow the federal requirements or adopt California’s vehicle emission regulations. Currently, nine states are following California and implementing the ZEV regulations, including the 15.4% sales target for zero emission vehicles in 2025.

By directly requiring that automakers invest in clean technology, the ZEV program is considered one of the nation’s most aggressive climate policies, and a driving force behind an expanding market with a current offer of over 30 zero emission models available to the U.S., according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

In following CARB's lead, Colorado will need to see more electric vehicles sold in the state.

(EPA Chief Pruitt announces plan to rollback CAFE. Click Here for the news.)

The mandate is contentious.

The Trump administration is studying several proposals that would curtail the ZEV, which are independent of the federal government. The ZEV states, however, have vowed to go to court to block and move by the Trump administration to reduce their standards, leaving the auto industry caught in the middle of feud that is making future planning more and more difficult.

The Trump administration also expected attack on the authority that Colorado is exercising to adopt stronger state standards, essentially gutting Section 177 of the Clean Air Act and reversing decades of national clean air policy.

(Click Here to see more about the auto industry backing away from CAFE cuts.)

Colorado is also of the nation’s larger markets for new vehicles and its accession to the coalition of ZEV states means that more than one third of all car buyers now live under the rules set by CARB. In addition, the ZEV states are also among the wealthiest states in the union.

Consumers are charged up about battery vehicles, but will they actually buy one in Colorado?

Any litigation could potentially drag on for years even if a conservative Supreme Court tilts the rules in the direction desired by the administration.

Hickenlooper, who is mentioned as a potential Democratic nominee to face Donald Trump in 2020 with his order Colorado joins together with other states and D.C. in calling for clean, efficient vehicles that save consumers money while limiting air pollution. The Colorado governor also vowed to help in any court fight against the administration effort to reduce the clean air standards.

(To see more about Pruitt’s resignation as head of EPA, Click Here.)

Air pollution has become a serious problem in Colorado as its population has grown. It has become so prevalent in the communities stretching along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains that the mountains are no longer visible on many days.

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