Colorado Tightens Emissions Standards As Federal Rules Relax

New cars sold in Colorado will have to run cleaner and average 36 miles per gallon by 2025 thanks to new emission rules adopted Friday.

The move was supported by ski areas and other businesses that have called on the state to take steps to combat the effects of greenhouse gases and climate change.

But some local government leaders and auto dealers in the state are afraid these new rules will have unintended consequences.

Larimer County Commissioner Tom Donnelly made a trip to Denver last week to urge the Air Quality Control Commission to hold off on adopting the new regulations. He said the move could harm the economy in Northern Colorado when the rules take effect.

"We have grave concerns there potentially be a market opened up (in Wyoming) with cheaper vehicles," he said. "We don't know what's going to happen."

Donnelly noted Fort Collins is just a 45-mile drive to Wyoming, and college students looking to buy a first vehicle might decide to take the trip up to buy cars that are cheaper.

The commission also heard arguments the new rules will increase the cost of a new vehicle by about $2,000.

However, the commission sided with proponents of the new regulations who said the policy will result in cleaner air and savings at the gas pump. They were also presented with data that showed vehicle sales have been on the rise in Colorado since 2010 despite stricter emission regulations.

"We have serious issues on the Front Range with air quality," commissioner Chuck Grobe said as he explained why he would be voting yes.

The commission voted 8-0 to adopt the new rules.

The regulations were adopted partly as a response to the federal government's announcement that emission standards would be relaxed at the federal level.

Colorado is hoping to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent before 2025.

Capitol Coverage is a collaborative public policy reporting project, providing news and analysis to communities across Colorado for more than a decade. Eleven public radio stations participate in Capitol Coverage from throughout Colorado.

Copyright 2018 KUNC. To see more, visit KUNC.