CDOT Head Tells Congress: Get Ready for Fight if Trump Rolls Back Auto Standards 

Shoshana Lew, executive director of CDOT, outside of the agency's headquarters on May 20. Streetsblog file photo by Andy Bosselman
Shoshana Lew, executive director of CDOT, outside of the agency's headquarters on May 20. Streetsblog file photo by Andy Bosselman

Shoshana Lew, executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation, went to Washington recently to warn that Colorado will join other states in a lawsuit if the Trump administration wipes out the ability of states to require more efficient gas-powered cars and a wider range of electric vehicles for sale. 

“If the Administration finalizes what it has proposed, our state will fight it in the courts, in partnership with California and many other states,” Lew told the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on June 20. 

In the 1970s, the EPA issued a waiver that allowed California to set its own vehicle emissions standards. In 2013, the Obama administration gave other states the right to adopt California’s rules, and Colorado did just that in November. Colorado is also expected to join the Golden State in requiring auto manufacturers to make a wider range of electric vehicles available for sale.

 But the new Trump administration rules, which are expected this summer, would get rid of states’ abilities to set tougher auto standards than the federal government. They would also freeze federal fuel economy standards.

But if Colorado’s vehicles don’t get cleaner and more efficient, the state would likely fail to comply with federal air quality standards more than it does today. If that happens, federal officials could cut off funding for highway and public transportation projects in the state. 

Lew told the committee that the new rules, which the Union of Concerned Scientists says are backed by big oil, are based on bad predictions about their impact. 

“This proposal, notably, was based on deeply flawed modeling and conclusions that defy both the spirit of their underlying statutes, common sense and the real world imperatives that we face today.” 

Lew added that the state has a moral obligation to fight pollution and the climate crisis:

Achieving a cleaner, and increasingly electrified, fleet is a key component of Governor Polis’ Roadmap to achieving 100% renewable energy by 2040, which is motivated by the moral imperative to fight climate change and curb pollution of our natural resources – which are key to both our economy and quality of life in Colorado – as well as the opportunity to drive innovation and harness the consumer savings and economic benefits of leading the transition to a clean energy economy.

We believe it is the right time for bold, aggressive, and pragmatic action to achieve a cleaner transportation sector. Indeed, we are encouraged to see bipartisan collaboration in our own legislature, and cooperation between state and local government partners across Colorado.

Read her full testimony here.

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