The darker side of the Calif. zeroemission vehicle mandate
Opinion pieces appearing last week in The Denver Post presented an incomplete and distorted picture of Colorado’s proposed adoption of California’s zeroemission vehicle (ZEV) mandate, which is set for a rulemaking this week. Allow me to provide some context and perspective.
An independent analysis commissioned by the Freedom to Drive Coalition suggests that ZEV mandates will have a profoundly negative impact on low- and middle-income families, small businesses and rural citizens in Colorado. The rules will increase the cost of the most popular vehicles in Colorado, while mandating sales quotas for the least popular vehicles in this market, in pursuit of written-for-california, costly-to-comply-with rules that haven’t succeeded in cutting vehicle emissions in the Golden State.
And this is all being imposed on Coloradans through procedural shortcuts and undemocratic means. The legislature hasn’t been asked to give this unprecedented surrender of state sovereignty and regulatory authority its blessing. Voters haven’t been asked whether they want what amounts to a climate tax slapped on future vehicle purchases.
Rather than subject this major new rule to the rigorous critique it merits, The Denver Post, in its Aug. 2 editorial (“Yes, adopt those California zero-emission vehicle standards (imperfections and all”) defaults to the “do-something, anything, even if it’s the wrong
thing” mindset that’s been driving this agenda from the start. It dismisses the plan’s many flaws and dubious assumptions as mere “imperfections,” when they could be leading Coloradans down the road to huge costs, crushing burdens and false promises.
The Freedom to Drive Coalition shares with The Denver Post and Gov. Jared Polis the desire to lower greenhouse gas emissions. But we want to see it done through the actions of the elected members of the Colorado legislature — not an unelected, unaccountable bureaucracy in California — and in a manner that is effective and will not harm our economy.
The ZEV program is a corporate handout to large electric vehicle corporations made at the expense of low-income workers, rural families, and, paradoxically, the environment. By trying to prematurely force large numbers of electric vehicles onto Colorado’s market with a complex credit trade system, the rule merely results in increasing the price of vehicles like pickup trucks that are required equipment for tradespeople and rural residents.
The biggest impact on reducing emissions has come from technological improvements in gas-powered vehicles, which will cost more under this proposal. By pricing a large segment of the population out of the new-vehicle market, many older, higher emitting vehicles will remain on the road, resulting in more carbon emissions than we would see otherwise.
And this doesn’t account for the projected electricity rate hikes needed to pay for subsidized electric vehicle charging stations, another cost more heavily born by those with low or fixed incomes, small businesses, and the rural community. It is immoral to give tax breaks to electric-vehicle buyers and corporate welfare to electric-vehicle corporations while raising the cost of living on already struggling farm families and working people.
Those seeking to promulgate these regulations should understand the cultural, economic, and geographic challenges faced by Colorado’s agriculture sector and working families. Our traditions and economy are unique and markedly different than California, the state for which these mandates were written. Challenging weather and road conditions and the long distances that must be traveled routinely are a fact of life in rural Colorado but not widely appreciated in Metro Denver.
We believe that Coloradans can do a better job and reduce emissions even more than has been done in California — when it comes to embracing new technologies and innovation Colorado is an unexcelled leader.
That is why our bipartisan coalition of concerned citizens from every corner of Colorado — a coalition encompassing agriculture, manufacturers, small business owners and hard-working families of every shape and size — opposes committing Colorado irrevocably to the California ZEV mandates. We will continue to provide a voice for those sadly overlooked in the process.