It appears that more than just people are moving to Colorado from California. In November, a Colorado commission that oversees air quality in our state unanimously decided to commit Colorado to enforcing the same standards as California for low emission vehicles, formally known as Cal-LEV standards.
There’s no doubt that we all value clean air in Colorado, and setting standards for low emission vehicles may seem like an easy solution. However, as with many government regulations, the devil is in the details. Cal-LEV standards dictate that, by 2022, 10 percent of auto dealership sales must come from low emission vehicles such as electric cars and hybrids.
10 percent? Seems reasonable. But consider that low emission vehicles make up less than one percent of auto dealership sales currently. Increasing sales to 10 percent in just three years is a major ask of both auto dealers and makers, especially considering that many of the SUVs and pickup trucks our state’s geography, climate and culture demand can not be reliable powered by electric or hybrid engines.
And with government regulation putting its weight on the scales of supply and demand, dealers will be forced to discount LEV-style vehicles while making up the difference on cars and trucks that don’t meet the standard. If you’re planning on buying a new Subaru or Jeep in the next three years, you may want to prepare to spend more for it.
Another issue with adopting California’s standards in Colorado is that Colorado is not only committing to the current standards, but also future standards — as changed by the state of California. In agreeing to adopt Cal-LEV, Colorado not only agreed to abide by California’s rules now, but to rules for years to come.
And while President Trump has signaled he may revoke the California standards altogether and require them to follow federal standards, that doesn’t quite solve the problem of whether or not Colorado should have the right to set emissions standards for ourselves. Neither the federal government nor another state should be making these decisions for our state, which should take into account our unique culture to find a solution that best fits our citizens and our needs.