Colorado Low Emission Vehicle Standard Would Increase Energy Poverty Without Major Emission Reductions

Colorado Low Emission Vehicle Standard Would Increase Energy Poverty Without Major Emission Reductions

State Analysis Paints Rosy Picture of Impact of CLEAR on Economy, Environment

New analysis from the non-partisan Pacific Research Institute, a California-based free-market think tank, finds that Colorado’s proposed low emission vehicle standards would impose higher economic costs on poor and working-class communities without generating significant environmental benefits.

Click here to download a copy of the PRI Issue Brief

“Colorado officials are painting a rosy scenario of how the low emission vehicle standards will impact the economy and the environment, but taxpayers should beware,” says Dr. Wayne Winegarden, author of the brief.  “Taking a realistic look shows that CLEAR could impose much higher costs on poor, minority, and rural communities – without achieving promised emission reductions.  Instead of adopting CLEAR, state government would be wise to embrace proven, free-market reforms that have successfully lowered emissions without hurting the economy.”

In the Issue Brief, Winegarden reviews the initial economic impact analysis conducted by state officials of the Colorado Low Emission Automobile Regulations (CLEAR).  The new Colorado standards would adopt California’s low emission vehicle standards.  The state analysis concluded that CLEAR would create net economic and environmental benefits.

He found that the state analysis is severely lacking, failing to account for whether electric vehicle technology will develop as the state assumes, whether the state will develop the charging station infrastructure to support mass electric vehicles, and whether the state can upgrade its electric infrastructure to meet the increased demand.

Winegarden’s analysis also found that the state report on CLEAR failed to consider that:

  • Emissions are already falling in Colorado without CLEAR. This shows that policymakers could chart an alternative, free market course to lower emissions in lieu of CLEAR.
  • Policies that shift emissions from Colorado to other locations, such as China where many electric vehicle production facilities are located, will not result in net emission reductions from a global perspective.
  • Electric vehicles start from an emissions deficit because their production emits up to 74 percent more emissions than internal combustion engine-powered cars. As annual emissions per electric vehicle in Colorado (5,999 pounds) is higher than the national average (4,352 pounds), the emission “break-even” point will be higher in Colorado.
  • Colorado’s wide temperature variations will impact battery efficiency, and thus the expected net emission reductions. New data from AAA shows that the average driving range of electric cars drop by 40 percent when temperatures fall below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and 17 percent when they climb past 95 degrees.

Winegarden also noted that the state’s analysis fails to consider the impact of similar, big government energy policies enacted in states like California and New York.  In Legislative Energy Poverty, Winegarden reviewed the impact of strict low carbon fuel standards and other so-called “green energy” policies.

His research found that California’s average state electricity prices in California are among the highest in the lower 48 states and Golden State drivers pay the nation’s highest gas taxes, while also suffering from the nation’s highest poverty rates.  It concluded that big government energy policies are not necessary to achieve significant emission reductions.

“Before acting, policymakers would be wise to look at the experiences of California and New York – states that adopted energy policies similar to what Colorado is considering,” said Winegarden.  “These government energy mandates have increased energy poverty in communities that can’t afford higher fuel and energy costs.  Colorado should think twice before imposing huge new energy costs on working families in the Rocky Mountain State.”

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Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.