Earlier this year, Colorado Governor Hickenlooper signed an executive order which began the process of establishing a Colorado Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) program. If adopted into the Colorado Code of Regulations, the Colorado LEV program would introduce stricter fuel economy standards for all new vehicles sold in the state.
It is helpful to distinguish between the LEV program and another clean car initiative you may have heard of: the Zero Emission Vehicle Program or ZEV. While LEV standards require higher average fuel economy for new vehicles, ZEV requires a certain percentage of an automaker’s vehicle sales be zero emission vehicles, like electric vehicles (EVs). Governor Hickenlooper’s executive order was concerned exclusively with the LEV standard.
To provide a bit of history and context for these automotive regulations, LEV standards have been implemented in 13 states while the ZEV standards have been implemented in 10 states. If implemented, Colorado will become the first non-coastal state to adopt the LEV standard and establish itself as a leader in driving automotive innovation.
What specific benefits would the LEV standard bring to Colorado? First, the standard would mean cleaner air for Coloradans resulting in decreased healthcare costs, better quality of life, and the preservation of Colorado’s natural beauty. Further, the standards would help Colorado meet some of its most important environmental goals. But, one might wonder, what will be the financial impact of the LEV program?
Don Anair from the The Union of Concerned Scientists summarizes the financial benefits Colorado has already seen from tougher regulations on vehicle fuel efficiency and what our state stands to gain by increasing these standards through the LEV program: “Coloradans have already saved $550 million in fuel costs thanks to existing standards and by 2030 are expected to save an average of $2,700 per household [if the LEV standard is adopted]. Governor Hickenlooper understands what’s at stake and the move to have Colorado join 13 other clean car states will ensure Coloradans continue to get clean, more efficient vehicle choices in every class from small cars to big SUVs and pickup trucks.”
A Colorado Air Quality Control Commision (AQCC) analysis provided the following breakdown of the financial costs and benefits of the LEV program:
- $750M in compliance costs ($954/vehicle to meet LEV standards)
- Fuel cost savings of $2.9B over the life of the vehicles statewide ($3,412/vehicle)
- Drivers will save more than $3,400 over the life of the vehicle compared to a sticker price increase of less than $1,000 per vehicle.
On August 16, 2018, the AQCC met to discuss the proposed LEV rules and receive comments from stakeholder organizations and the public. The majority of comments from the public were in favor of the Colorado LEV program and there were extensive comments encouraging the commission to also explore the adoption of the ZEV standards. By contrast, The Association of Global Automakers was supportive of the adoption of the LEV standard, but opposed the addition of the ZEV standard. As a result of the extensive public support of the ZEV standard at the meeting, the AQCC will consider a ZEV rule proposal at their December 2018 meeting.
On November 15, Colorado’s AQCC will vote on whether to adopt the LEV standards. Public comments made a big difference at the last meeting of the AQCC. If you’d like to make your voice heard concerning proposed rules that can help accelerate the adoption of EVs in Colorado, consider attending the next AQCC meeting. You can find their calendar here.
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