High Stakes for Colorado in Anticipated Clean Cars Program Rollback

September 17, 2019

Travis Madsen | Transportation Program Director
tmadsen@swenergy.org | 720-937-2609


According to news reports, on Wednesday the Trump administration will revoke Colorado’s authority to set tougher emission standards for automobiles. This would be a direct attack on Colorado’s participation in the Clean Cars Program, which the state adopted in 2018 and 2019. The Clean Cars Program requires automakers to build cars that emit less carbon pollution, and to introduce more electric vehicles to Colorado markets. Colorado, California, and 12 other states participate.

Congress wrote the authority underpinning the Clean Cars Program into the 1970 Clean Air Act. Attempting to revoke it, as the Trump administration appears poised to do, would be unprecedented.

We expect Colorado and other states to defend the Clean Cars Program in court. 

The stakes are high. If the courts were to uphold the Trump Administration’s action, it would:

  • Eliminate the benefits that Colorado anticipates from the Zero Emissions Vehicle Program. Through 2030, that would cost Coloradans at least a billion dollars extra on gasoline and car maintenance expenses, and cause at least 3 million tons of additional global warming pollution;
  • Remove the safeguards that Colorado put into place to protect against the possibility of the federal government repealing Obama-era fuel efficiency and vehicle pollution rules. If the Trump administration rolls back these rules at a later date, Coloradans would spend an extra $9 billion on wasted fuel and emit more than 30 million tons of extra global warming pollution; and 
  • Prevent any new states from adopting the Clean Cars Program. 

“The federal government should let Colorado lead the way toward clean, efficient transportation,” said Travis Madsen, Transportation Program director at SWEEP. “The Clean Cars Program saves us money on fuel, cuts dangerous pollution, and helps preserve our climate. Rolling it back would be misguided and wrong.”