Court Gives Colorado Green Light for Clean Car Standards

July 8, 2019

Travis Madsen, Transportation Program Director | 303-447-0078


(Denver, CO) – Today, the District Court for the City and County of Denver rejected a challenge seeking to block implementation of more protective pollution standards for passenger vehicles. (Case Number 2019 CV30343)

Last November, the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission adopted Regulation #20, the Colorado Low Emission Automobile Regulation (or CLEAR). The rule requires automobile manufacturers to build vehicles that achieve better fuel efficiency and emit less global warming pollution. It will ensure that Colorado cars will continue to get cleaner, even if the federal government manages to roll back Obama-era vehicle efficiency and pollution rules. The state estimated that the rules will prevent nearly 2 million tons of carbon pollution annually by 2030. These rules are also expected to reduce criteria pollution–delivering healthier air, while saving Coloradans hard-earned money at the gas pump.

The Colorado Automobile Dealers Association (CADA) filed suit against the state earlier this year, alleging that the state adopted the rule unlawfully. The court today dismissed that suit, finding that Congress designed the Clean Air Act to give states the ability to take action to ensure clean air and a healthy population, and that CADA does not have legal standing to challenge those protections.

A wide variety of public health, environmental, efficiency and consumer advocacy groups supported Colorado’s adoption of CLEAR. Their reactions to today’s ruling include:


“This is a green light for cleaner, more efficient cars,” said Travis Madsen, Transportation Program Director at the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. “We’re glad the courts recognized Colorado’s right to act against air pollution. Coloradans will save billions on fuel over the next decade as a result.”

“Today, the court upheld the state of Colorado’s wise decision to adopt cleaner car standards in order to protect our health and environment,” said Emily Gedeon, Conservation Program Director with the Colorado Sierra Club. “While the federal administration seeks to throw clean car standards in reverse any day now, we must take major action to address transportation pollution in Colorado, protect our communities, and accelerate us to a cleaner future.”

“Today’s court decision is an important win for climate safety, healthier air, and the pocketbooks of all Coloradans. We will all benefit from cleaner cars and fuel cost savings,” said Laura Shields, attorney for Environmental Defense Fund.

“This decision helps ensure Coloradans get the clean air they want and deserve,” said Noah Long, Senior Attorney at Natural Resources Defense Council. “With the court affirming the future of this common-sense rule to ensure clean air, we can now look to more ways Coloradans can cut air pollution and fight climate disruption.”

“As shown during the rulemaking last fall, Colorado’s low emission vehicle rule will reduce damaging climate pollution by billions of dollars, lessen ozone and other pollution, and save hard working Coloradans money on total vehicle costs,” said Tom Bloomfield, a Partner at Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell, representing a coalition of environmental organizations defending the rule in court.