Colorado Officials Respond to Federal Rule Weakening Fuel Efficiency Standards

News Release

DENVER (March 31, 2020): Officials with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Colorado Department of Transportation, and Colorado Energy Office criticized a new rule from the federal Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Transportation that weakens existing vehicle mileage and emissions standards and reverses progress in Colorado and other states in expanding access to lower emission, fuel efficient vehicles. 

The previous standards required automakers to improve average fuel efficiency by five percent per year between model years 2021-2026. The EPA had estimated that the fuel efficiency standards would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by billions of tons between 2009 and 2025.

The Safer Affordable Vehicle Rule released today would require only a 1.5 percent annual increase in fuel efficiency standards, a figure that is lower than the average actual increases in efficiency achieved per year since the Bush Administration. 

The State of Colorado has already taken significant steps on its own to address harmful air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, including those from automobiles. In 2019, state regulators approved a Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) rule, following a successful negotiation with auto manufacturers, that will provide consumers with more environmentally friendly vehicle options while slashing greenhouse gas emissions by more than three million tons between model years 2023-2030. 

“Fighting climate change and improving air quality will ultimately require a concerted national and international effort,” said John Putnam, director of environmental programs at the Department of Public Health and Environment. “So we wish the federal government had done better than a rule that rolls back important environmental progress. In Colorado, we’ve committed to doing the big things — reducing greenhouse gas emissions, addressing emissions from cars and trucks, providing Coloradans with clean air and improving the quality of life for everyone in our state. We’re proud to lead on these important issues, and we hope the federal government eventually decides to rejoin us.” 

"It is bitterly ironic that, in the midst of a pandemic that is compromising respiratory health across the globe, this administration is choosing to focus its energies on rolling back air pollution regulations and trying to curtail states’ rights to protect the air we all breathe. It’s time for some perspective here: let’s put this needlessly partisan fight behind us and work together — federal and state governments, automakers and autoworkers, and the advocates for public health and the environment — and find a way to get auto manufacturers and the auto supply chain through the tumultuous economic time that we are in and on a long term pathway toward zero emissions transportation as the economy rebounds,” said Will Toor, executive director, Colorado Energy Office.

“We remain as adamant as ever that a collaborative approach -- with government partners,  auto manufacturers, and auto dealers -- is the best way to ensure that consumers across Colorado have a range of clean vehicle choices to suit their mobility needs,” said Shoshana Lew, executive director, Colorado Department of Transportation. “Our work in Colorado last year to complete the first ZEV rulemaking in the country that followed a successful negotiation with auto manufacturers could be a model for how we can turn the page in the national debate towards a more collaborative approach that’s good for the environment, consumers, and our economy.”