Colorado's zero-emissions policy would require 6% of cars sold by 2030 to be zero-emission vehicles, a move that is projected to eliminate more than 3 million metric tons of greenhouse-gas pollution. (DOD)
DENVER – Colorado has joined 10 other states that have adopted an official zero-emission standard for vehicles, a move Gov. Jared Polis says will lead to cleaner energy and healthier air.
The action comes as the Trump administration is working to restrict states' rights to adopt protections stronger than federal standards under the Clean Air Act.
Shannon Baker-Branstetter, manager of car and energy policy for Consumer Reports, says the new rule means Coloradans will have a lot more choice in electric vehicles.
"It also provides the state and businesses the certainty they need to invest in electric-vehicle infrastructure,” she states. “And battery prices are dropping rapidly and the economies of scale that this program provides will help EV prices drop even further."
The plan imposes a mandate on automakers that at least 5% of its fleet sold by 2023 be zero-emission vehicles.
Some critics argue that consumers in Colorado don't want today's electric sedans, they want SUVs.
Dealerships also oppose the measure in part because electric vehicles require less maintenance, and a higher percentage of EV sales could force them to change their business model.
Baker-Branstetter notes a couple of electric SUVs already are on the market, and more are coming.
She says most consumers haven't even seen electric vehicles, advertised or at dealerships, and 85% of Colorado car buyers don't know about tax credits that can reduce the price of an electric vehicle by thousands of dollars.
"And so if there were better education about how consumers can save money on fuel and maintenance costs as well as the state and federal incentives, that would also help increase EV sales," she states.
A recent study of 50 major cities found that zero-emission drivers can save an average of $770 a year because of lower maintenance costs and paying as little as 68 cents for the equivalent of a gallon of gasoline.
After the rule was adopted Friday, the director of the Colorado Public Health and Environment's Air Pollution Control Division told the Denver Post that since the federal government refuses to act on air quality, it's up to states to take the lead.