Energy, Environment, Featured, Governor Polis, Sherrie Peif

Group sues Colorado over Zero Emissions Vehicle regulations: say federal ruling preempts governor’s mandate

DENVER — A group hoping to “rally support from the people of Colorado to fight the new California air quality standards being imposed on the citizens,” has filed suit in Denver District Court, asking a judge to reverse the adoption of zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) regulations by the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission (CAQCC) earlier this summer.

The group, Freedom To Drive (FTD), which brands itself as a  “broad-based grassroots group representing small business, transportation, agriculture, and consumers” filed the complaint on Oct. 30 saying the regulations are preempted and invalidated by federal rules and the Clean Air Act, adding they were “approved in violation of numerous state laws which require that rules and regulations adopted in Colorado be studied and justified based on Colorado-specific considerations,” a news release said.

“The commission’s attempt to adopt California’s harsh auto emission standards wholesale, without due regard for Colorado’s very different vehicle profile is unwarranted, foolish, and we believe, unnecessary and harmful to the Colorado economy,” Coalition Executive Director Kelly Sloan said in the release.

FTD says the CAQCC “simply rubber-stamped California’s zero-emission vehicle regulations without considering how those regulations could harm hardworking Coloradans.”

California was granted an initial waiver in the 1970s under the federal Clean Air Act because it already had standards in place that exceeded those of the EPA. They have received several dozen additional waivers over the years. Many of those standards have been adopted over the years by other states in preference to the EPA regulations, including Colorado.

While proponents of California’s waiver say it’s a state’s right issue, others — including the president of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association (CADA), Tim Jackson — say California should not be setting regulations for other states, only the federal government has the power to do that.

The lawsuit was filed just 45 days after the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announced its plan to roll back California’s waiver from federal clean air rules, under President Donald Trump’s direction. The rollback rescinded decades of waivers granted to California to set its own automobile emissions standards.

At that time, Jackson said the decision was good news for car manufacturers, as requiring all states to follow one set of rules makes auto manufacturing much more affordable and effective.

“Industry-wide, whether it’s automakers or auto dealers, historically, we’ve always supported a single national standard on fuel efficiency for cost efficiency,” Jackson told Complete Colorado then. “We think this is a very important action on the part of the EPA at the federal level to end the California cartel on fuel economy standards. In doing so, it wipes out the ability for the current Colorado administration to needlessly increase the cost of new cars in Colorado.”

Representatives from the CAQCC did not immediately return requests from Complete Colorado seeking comment.

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser and Gov. Jared Polis, who made the ZEV mandate one of his first executive orders after being sworn into office, have vowed to join forces with other states to fight the federal rollback.

According to the filing, on Sept. 27, the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published its final rule revoking California’s waivers, thus revoking Colorado’s ability to submit to California standards as well.

Freedom to Drive called the mandates costly and said they would drive up the cost of non-electric vehicles by $2,500 or more.

“It is well-known that Colorado has made far more progress than California in reducing air pollution traceable to vehicle emissions,” Sloan said in the release. “So why in the world should we be trying to mirror California’s incredibly costly but unsuccessful regulations?”

 

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