Two of Colorado’s best-known advocates for reducing vehicle emissions — a former governor and the state’s largest environmental organization — were quick to react after President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that his administration is revoking California’s authority to set auto emissions standards stricter than federal rules.
Colorado, 12 other states, the District of Columbia and most automakers have adopted higher standards than those backed by the Trump administration, specifically those embraced by California.
In Colorado, former Gov. John Hickenlooper — one of the Democrats hoping to take on Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner next year — issued a statement “denouncing Donald Trump and Cory Gardner” in a quickly politicized issue. He accused Gardner of “failing to raise a pinky finger against Trump’s dangerous actions.”
“As governor, I was proud to take steps to require that vehicles meet stricter low-emissions standards, standards that even the auto industry has embraced,” stated Hickenlooper, whose executive order last year requires vehicles to meet low-emission standards by 2025, an order that would be nullified by the Trump administration’s plan.
“It’s shameful that President Trump would actively undo the critical progress we’ve made,” Hickenlooper said. “It’s time for change in Washington and for Colorado to have a senator who will stand up for our state (and our planet).”
Jessica Goad, deputy director of Conservation Colorado, said the Trump administration was “yet again undermining not just Colorado’s environment and public health, but our state’s right to protect our residents from dangerous air pollution.”
But a news release by Hickenlooper’s senatorial campaign, saying not even some automakers want to ease standards, was quickly challenged by the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association.
“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,” said the Wednesday statement by Tim Jackson, president and CEO of the Denver-based dealer trade group.
Colorado Democrats have pushed for stronger clean air standards since taking control of the Legislature and retaining the governor’s office this year. Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order last month to move “boldly” on clean air initiatives, and in January he signed an executive order to boost the availability of zero emissions vehicles.
But Gardner, too, has backed some clean air initiatives. He announced in July that the U.S. Department of Transportation would provide the Denver Regional Transportation District $2.6 million to buy low- or no-emissions vehicles. In May, he cheered ExxonMobil’s $100 million investment in lower-emissions research and development with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and National Energy Technology Laboratory in Golden.
“It’s crucial that our state continues to support innovative lower-emissions research and development in order to enhance the transportation, power generation, and industrial sectors across Colorado and the country,” Gardner said then. “I will continue to advocate for the collaborative energy research being done at NREL.”
Gardner has said climate change is real, and pollution caused by people contributes to it, though left-leaning politicos and environmental groups have sought to cast him and Trump in the same dim light.
The left also cried foul in December, when Gardner, vulnerable in 2020, picked up a major science award from the American Geophysical Union, which he shared with U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., for their bipartisan legislation to advance science policy.
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