Colorado Adopts New Zero-Emissions Standard

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Colorado is trying to improve its air quality by tightening its emissions regulations. It announced last week that it will require at least 5% of vehicles available for sale in the state by 2023 to emit zero pollution. The number rises to over 6% by 2025.

The regulation was passed by the state Air Quality Control Commission by an 8 to 1 vote and falls in line with the governor’s push for clean energy and healthier air. It’s important to note there’s nothing to force residents to buy these vehicles, but rather it forces automakers to make them available.

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“We are charged up and ready to roll,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment executive director. “The adoption of the zero-emission vehicle standard is a clear demonstration of our unrelenting commitment to making sure every Coloradan has clean air to breathe.”

Zero emissions vehicles, which include both fully electric and plug-in hybrid models, currently make up only 2.6% of cars sold in Colorado. Governor Jared Polis told the Air Quality Control Commission to set a zero-emissions standard right after he took office in January.

Ground-level ozone has been a problem for the state’s urban areas for years. Ozone is of particular concern because it’s the part of smog that irritates asthma and causes other respiratory issues. Reduce the number of vehicles creating this pollution and the overall air quality should rise.

It’s enough of an issue in Denver that ozone alerts have appeared on highway signs this summer asking for the public’s help by reducing vehicle usage. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently noted that Denver and the northern Colorado urban corridor don’t meet federal ozone standards and a clean-up plan is in order.

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Colorado is the 11th state to adopt zero-emissions standards as concerns about the impact of vehicle emissions grow. While the number of electric vehicles available  is increasing, many are still reluctant to make the switch.

Concerns about range top the list. That, combined with access to charging stations that are more prevalent in some areas of the country than others, leads many people to stick with gas engines despite their negative environmental impact.

The state of Colorado hopes the ready availability of more zero-emissions vehicles will help people finally make the switch.