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Becoming California won’t be cheap

Becoming California won’t be cheap

Another summer, another command from Hick on High. Breaking out his best Barack Obama rule-by-executive-fiat pen, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed the erroneously titled “Maintaining Progress on Clean Vehicles” executive order.

Load up your Nissan Leaf, the 21st Century family truckster.  It’s California or bust!

Hick’s two-page executive order has more platitudes than substance and doesn’t cite any specific statute. Further, it mentions Zero Emissions Vehicles (ZEV) in the “Background, Need, and Purpose” but doesn’t include them specifically in the directive which states that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) shall adopt a low emissions vehicle (LEV) plan that mirrors California’s:

In order to maintain progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles sold in Colorado, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment shall:

  • Develop a rule to establish a Colorado LEV program, which incorporates the requirements of the California LEV program;

  • Propose that rule to the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission during its August 2018 meeting for possible adoption into the Colorado Code of Regulations by December 30, 2018.

You read that right. Hick on High demands that it be done just days before he flees the Governor’s mansion and well ahead of the economic devastation his order will bring. Make no mistake, this is the kind of policy that hurts the least among us.

Since there is no directive telling CDPHE to exclude ZEVs, I’m going to assume an over-zealous Air Quality Control Commission won’t be able to put the brakes on its collective bureaucratic nannyism and will include ZEVs along with Low Emissions Vehicles (LEV).

What exactly is the California dream car policy mandate?

Inside Climate News published a good deconstruction on California’s clean car rules, which passed the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in January 2012 on a 9-0 vote.

From ICN:

  • CARB “set a mandatory, annual target for each manufacturer to increase its share of zero-emissions vehicles, a mix of plug-in hybrids, battery-electric and hydrogen cars.”
  • Beginning in 2018, California requires that 15 percent of all cars sold in that state must be all-electric, plug-in hybrid electric or hydrogen vehicles. The goal is 500,000 all-electric and hydrogen cars and 900,000 plug-in hybrids traveling California’s highways.
  • If auto manufacturers miss their target, they can purchase indulgencescredits from smaller manufacturers or they can roll over credits if they overshoot their target in a prior year.
  • If they fail to meet their targets all together and don’t purchase credits, manufacturers can be fined $5,000 per vehicle.
  • Conventional gasoline cars must slash emissions 50 percent by 2025.
  • Build out hydrogen filling stations.
  • They did not include a mandate for consumer demand, which could leave auto dealers with a bunch of cars no one wants.
  • CARB estimates that by 2025 new regulations will add up to an additional $1,900 to the cost of a new car whether conventional or alternative fuel.
  • By 2020, an electric vehicle will cost $12,900 more than an average gasoline-powered vehicle.
  • By 2020, hydrogen cars will cost $12,400 more than an average gasoline-powered vehicle.

To be sure, there have been changes to the 2012 rules but you get the gist. This won’t be easy or cheap.

If you are wondering who has a hydrogen car, me too. So, I looked it up. Apparently, Kroger has “120 fuel cell-powered forklifts at a Stapleton warehouse” and the Army is testing one at Fort Carson.

And five years later, that pesky lack of consumer demand is proving troublesome. While California sells far more alternative fuel vehicle than any other state, those vehicles still only make up 3 percent of the total vehicles sold, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. That’s a far cry from the 15 percent mandated by the CARB.

In fact, the Golden State is going backward:

The sales of hybrids and electric cars have flattened and, in some cases, lost market share in the last couple of years as more consumers switch to light-duty trucks and SUVs, in large part because of low gasoline prices and better fuel efficiency on the part of conventional vehicles.

Cue lawmakers who believe the answer to solving the problem of bad government policy is more bad government policy. In 2017, California Assemblywoman Autumn Burke (D-Los Angeles) introduced a sales tax credit or kind of a cash for gasoline clunkers. The bill died but not the problem.

Based on what California passed in 2012, Colorado won’t be “maintaining” anything. Instead, Hick on High has the pedal to the metal. He’s taking Coloradans careening over a California cliff off the Pacific Coast Highway. It might make a good Hollywood movie, but it’s horrible for working families who will have to pay the price. By CARB’s own estimate stated above, they will be paying far more for their vehicles, and we have no idea if the projected cost savings will ever materialize.

Native Californian and environmental activist Quinn Wolfe, founder of Californians Advocating for the Environment (CAFE) asked this:

When did my fellow environmentalists let vanity vanquish common sense?

How else to explain the sight of so many overpriced electric cars, driven by the fewest among us, when most Californians neither have the money nor the means to eventually make enough money to buy a Tesla?

Then he went on to explain:

The problem is that the mandate is yet another transfer of wealth to the wealthy. It redirects tax dollars to subsidize the manufacture of Teslas at the expense of essential services like education, police and fire. It undermines the programs we can least afford to cut, while it rewards the very individuals who can afford just about anything.

If Hick wants Coloradans to pay more for driving their cars, he should be honest and ask for a tax increase. Forcing higher costs via regulatory rule making is a backdoor tax increase for lazy politicians, who would rather be campaigning and crowing rather than rolling up their sleeves and doing the hard work of convincing voters to pay more.

Unfortunately, unless someone legally or legislatively challenges the EO or we get a Republican governor, it might just be the price Coloradans have to pay for becoming East California.

We can’t be California on the cheap!