U.S. states are jumping into the vacuum that the lack of clean air and climate change leadership from President Donald Trump's administration has created.
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, for instance, in June signed an executive order that commits the Rocky Mountain state to adopting low emission vehicle (LEV) standards.
The LEV action helps the state meet its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2025.
Colorado has glorious natural beauty, but its mountainous topography makes the state especially vulnerable to greater impacts of pollution from the vehicles that travel within the state - an estimated total of 28 billion miles every year.
“Colorado has a choice," said Governor Hickenlooper. "This executive order calls for the state to adopt air quality standards that will protect our quality of life in Colorado."
“Low emissions vehicles are increasingly popular with consumers and are better for our air," said the governor. "Every move we make to safeguard our environment is a move in the right direction.”
The executive order instructs the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to develop a rule to establish a Colorado LEV program incorporating the requirements of California's LEV program.
The agency must then propose that rule to the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission during its August 2018 meeting for possible adoption into the Colorado Code of Regulations by December 30, 2018.
In recent years, Colorado has made gains in transitioning to cleaner forms of energy while remaining one of the least costly states for fuel.
In addition, at the end of January 2018, the state adopted an Electric Vehicle Plan, in line with 12 other states with similar emissions standards. Nine of the 12 states have a separate Zero Emission Vehicle program, which requires manufacturers to sell a specified percentage of electric vehicles.
Hickenlooper's executive order states, "As the highest-elevation state in the country, Colorado has unmatched natural beauty and world-class recreational offortunities, but it also creates unique challenges."
One big challenge, the order states, is the Trump administration's April announcement of its intention to roll back federal vehicle greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency standards for model years 2022 and beyond.
"This decision," states the order, "ran against the conclusions drawn in comprehensive analyses by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the State of California showing that the existing standards are technologically feasible and will over the life of the vehicle actually save motorists money through reduced fuel costs."
"This decision could also have serious consequences for Colorado's efforts to meet our clean energy goals by increasing carbon dioxide emissions from Colorado's vehicle fleet by approximately 1.9 million tons a year by 2030," the order states.
By Sunny Lewis
Environment News Service (ENS)
July 13, 2018