20190411-Colwell-CoPo_party_A8C5836.jpg WAFHAMS JACKSON BRAUCHLER

Tim Jackson, CEO of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association (second from right) speaks with former Colorado GOP chief Dick Wadhams (left) and 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler oat the Colorado Politics party at Ironworks in Denver on April 11, 2019.

After the Trump administration said Wednesday that the federal government — not individual states — should decide auto emissions standards, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper's senatorial campaign sent out a press release saying not even some auto makers want to ease standards.

The Colorado Automobile Dealers Association on Wednesday tapped the brakes on that runaway suggestion of industry support for state's rights on clean air.

“The Colorado Automobile Dealers Association supports the federal government’s decision to revoke the authority of California and allied states like Colorado to set separate, more onerous and costly vehicle emissions standard," Tim Jackson, president and CEO of the Denver-based dealer trade group, said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

“Conflicting standards set by the California cartel creates a complicated, contradictory system that ultimately costs consumers," he said.

He added that the move by the Trump administration "restricts the ability of unelected regulators in Colorado to cede authority to unelected bureaucrats in California."

The California rules don't fit in the Rocky Mountain state, Jackson said.

 “The California emissions standards reflect famously bad air quality in cities like Long Beach and Los Angeles, not conditions in Colorado," he stated. "The California standards don’t take into consideration Colorado’s unique driving conditions, with mountainous terrain, challenging weather and long distances between communities."

He said California drivers gravitate to sedans, while Coloradans favor light trucks and sport-utility vehicles.

 “We trust Colorado consumers to decide what vehicle is right for them," Jackson said. "And they are getting more options in the marketplace, including more electric vehicles, than ever before.

“Consumers will save money and air quality can continue to improve with this decision to enforce a nationwide emissions standard.”

Under Hickenlooper, and especially under his successor, Gov. Jared Polis, Colorado Democrats have pushed hard to help sell more electric vehicles and adopt other clean-air measures that provide the added benefit of reducing greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change.

Colorado is one of 13 states and Washington, D.C., suing to block the administration from interfering with state's emissions policies.

In a press release Tuesday, Hickenlooper's campaign bashed President Trump and incumbent Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, who holds the seat Hickenlooper is running for.

Gardner, however, has supported research into lower emissions vehicles and, unlike other Republicans, connected human-caused pollution to a changing climate.

Hickenlooper's campaign denounced Trump and Gardner for seeking a rollback "even auto manufacturers do not want."

The campaign press release alluded to a deal four automakers -- Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW -- stuck with California leaders in July to gain slightly less restrictive rules than those supported earlier by the Obama administration.

The Freedom to Drive Coalition, a Colorado business collaboration that includes the Colorado Petroleum Association and the Colorado Motor Carriers Association, also backed Trump's decision.

"A single national emissions standard will make vehicles more affordable for all Coloradans and allow auto manufacturers to focus on safety features that consumers most want in their family vehicles," coalition spokeswoman Sara G. Almerri stated.

"Without this waiver, federal law will prevent Colorado from penalizing manufacturers who meet the federal standard, but not the former California standard. This is welcome news for Colorado and should serve as a shot of adrenaline for the states economy."

Meanwhile, Boulder-based Western Resource Advocates denounced the move by the Trump administration on Wednesday.

“This is a huge step backward, when a growing number of states are taking significant actions to address climate change, including setting zero-emission vehicle standards,” Ellen Howard Kutzer, a senior staff attorney with Western Resource Advocates, said in a statement.

Contact Joey Bunch at joey.bunch@coloradopolitics.com or follow him on Twitter @joeybunch.

Colorado Politics senior political reporter

Joey Bunch is the senior correspondent and deputy managing editor of Colorado Politics. His 32-year career includes the last 16 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and he is a two-time finalist.

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