Gov. Jared Polis signs his first environmental executive order on Thursday, Jan. 17, to put more electric cars and buses on the road. He's flanked by state representatives and leaders of environmental groups.

Grace Hood/CPR News

Gov. Jared Polis wants to get more electric cars and buses on the road in Colorado.

To that end, he issued an executive order that he hopes "will lead to additional decreases in costs and savings for Colorado electric vehicle consumers, and help put into place the infrastructure we need to make sure that electric vehicles are usable and drivable in all parts of our state.”

Electric vehicles have more buyers in recent years, but have yet to reach a tipping point. That’s where Polis is ultimately headed. The goal is to bring down carbon dioxide emissions from the transportation sector, the largest polluter across the United States.

Colorado transportation makes up one-third of the state’s carbon emissions. Coal- and gas-fired power plants are the other big emitters in the state.

The core element of the governor’s order is a directive for the Colorado Department of Public and Health and the Environment to start a Zero Emissions Vehicle Program. Eleven states participate. California, which administers ZEV for many states, was the originator of the program.

Polis said participation in ZEV will allow for the sale of electric cars not currently sold in the state. The goal is to develop and market zero-emission cars, and ultimately reduce carbon dioxide emissions across Colorado.

“So, it’s about increasing availability to consumers, having better prices for consumers,” Polis said.

There was just one visible opponent to Polis’ executive order: the Colorado Automobile Dealers’ Association.

“Colorado’s consumers do not need the government telling them what vehicles they should buy,” executive director Tim Jackson said in a statement. “Let’s keep car-buying decisions in the hands of our citizens, not unelected California bureaucrats.”    

In addition to ZEV, the order directs how Colorado will spend remaining dollars from the Volkswagen settlement lawsuit, asks the Colorado Department of Transportation to develop a department policy to insure more widespread adoption and establishes an interdepartmental working group.

The executive order does not impact tractors or farm equipment.