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Auto dealers sue state over emissions standards

Posted at 8:03 PM, Jan 30, 2019

Car dealers in Colorado are taking the State to court, suing over the implementation of strict new emission standards based on California law.

Tim Jackson, the President and CEO of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association believes state regulators want to force drivers to buy more electric cars and low emission vehicles by implementing rules that raise the cost of higher emission vehicles.

To better understand the scope of the issue, Jackson said helps to look around a new car lot and see what sort of vehicles Colorado buyers want to drive.

“75 percent of what consumers buy in Colorado fall under the category of light-duty trucks,” he said. “That’s pickups, vans, and SUVs.”

By comparison, roughly 3 percent of the market is made up of low emission and electric vehicles. SUVs and pickups are larger and use more gasoline. Thus, they generate more carbon dioxide emissions.

In November, the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission adopted California’s Low-Emission Vehicle (LEV) Standards acting on an executive order by then Governor John Hickenlooper.  The rule change will require pickups and SUV to produce the same level of emissions as passenger cars by 2022.

Jackson said CADA ordered a study of the rule change and found it will cost car buyers an extra $2,000 on average in order to comply. Those are pass-through costs added by manufacturers who will have to buy credits for vehicles that do not meet the new emissions standards.

The group’s lawsuit challenges whether the commissioners followed their own own requirements for gathering public opinion before passing the rule.

“We think they violated some of their own requirements,” Jackson said. “I can tell you, it was like a kangaroo court, and I felt like we were in front of a banana republic. I mean, I’ve never seen this in the State of Colorado like this and I think the public would be outraged if they saw what happened.”

He also thinks the public will be outraged because the new regulations hold Coloradoans accountable for the air quality in California, not in Colorado.

“We’ll test air quality in places like Long Beach, LA, San Francisco, and Sacramento; but not in places like Aspen, Telluride, Colorado Springs or Denver,” Jackson said.

State agencies don’t comment on lawsuits against them. However, the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division stated in November that they believe the new regulations will lead to a reduction of more than 2 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions by the year 2030.

They also point out that only California and the federal government have the authority to set to motor vehicle emission standards. Colorado joined 12 other states and the District of Columbia in adopting the California LEV standards.