Colorado Becomes First State in the Central U.S. to Adopt Zero Emission Vehicle Standards

August 16, 2019
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396,

(Denver, Colorado – August 15, 2019) Today, Colorado became the first state in the central U.S. to adopt Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) standards for cars and trucks – a move that will provide crucial climate, public health and economic benefits for its citizens.

After days of debate that included, for the first time ever, the express support of automakers, Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission voted 8-to-1 today to adopt ZEV standards. The vote means Colorado will join ten other states (California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont) that are now implementing both low-emission and ZEV standards, and it paves the way for other Midwestern and Western states to follow.

“With today’s vote, Colorado joins the growing coalition of states positioned to reap the public health and economic benefits of a rapid transition to a cleaner transportation sector with zero-emitting vehicles,” said EDF attorney Alice Henderson. “Coloradans will see cost savings at the pump, cleaner air, and a safer climate. EDF applauds the move and looks forward to continued progress to ensure Colorado meets its climate goals.” 

EDF was one of many groups – including local governments, environmental justice advocates, the electric vehicle industry, and other public health and environmental groups – that advocated for adoption of the program.

Today’s vote also marks the first time a state has adopted ZEV standards with support from the auto industry. Two major industry groups, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Global Automakers, which together represent 98 percent of the market, expressly supported the move (including crediting flexibilities jointly proposed by the automakers, the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Colorado Energy office). The Alliance stated in a written submission that it is, “committed to vehicle electrification and working with Colorado.”

The automakers’ support for Colorado’s adoption of ZEV standards is the latest sign of the undeniable and rapid shift to electric vehicles. It also underscores the growing awareness around the country of the clear benefits of a cleaner transportation sector for addressing the climate crisis, protecting people from unhealthy air pollution, helping families save money and growing our economy.

An analysis commissioned by EDF found that the state’s adoption of a combined clean cars program will save Coloradans up to $2.1 billion per year in 2040. ZEV adoption will also have clear benefits for consumers. Coloradans owning a model year 2025 ZEV will save more than $5,000 over the course of their ownership of the vehicle.

The analysis also found that by 2030 Colorado’s combined Clean Cars program is expected to reduce 2.7 million metric tons of climate pollution. However, that still leaves a 45 to 48 million metric ton gap between 2030 emission projections and the required reductions under Colorado’s historic new climate legislation. A draft regulation to meet the state’s new targets is required by next July.

You can read more on the benefits of Colorado’s ZEV program in EDF’s new fact sheet.

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