The darker side of the Calif. ze­roe­mis­sion ve­hi­cle man­date

The Denver Post - - OP-ED - By Sara Almerri Guest Com­men­tary Sara Almerri is the pub­lic af­fairs direc­tor for the Free­dom To Drive Coali­tion.

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.

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