Two of Colorado's best-known advocates for vehicle emissions standards — one a former governor, the other the state's largest environmental organization — were among the first to react when the Trump administration moved to block states from exceeding federal rules.
When President Trump pulled the nation out of the international Paris Climate Accord coalition in 2017, then-Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper was among the state leaders who vowed to maintain the fight against greenhouse gases that fuel climate change.
Colorado is among 13 states, the District of Columbia and most automakers who have adopted higher standards than those backed by the Trump administration, specifically those embraced by California.
Tuesday numerous sources reported that Trump's Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler told the National Automobile Dealers Association, “We embrace federalism and the role of the states, but federalism does not mean that one state can dictate standards for the nation.”
Jessica Goad, the deputy director of Conservation Colorado, said the Trump administration was "yet again undermining not just Colorado's environment and public health, but our state's right to protect our residents from dangerous air pollution."
Colorado Democrats have pushed for higher clean air standards since taking control of full legislature and retaining the governor's office this year.
In August Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order to move "boldly" on clean air initiatives, and in January he signed an executive order to boost the availability of zero emissions vehicles.
Hickenlooper signed an executive order last year to require vehicles meet low-emission standards by 2025, which would be nullified by the Trump administration’s plan.
Hickenlooper, among the Democrats hoping to take on Republican Sen. Cory Gardner next year, also issued a statement "denouncing Donald Trump and Cory Gardner" in a quickly politicized issue. He accused Gardner of "failing to raise a pinky finger against Trump’s dangerous actions."
“As governor, I was proud to take steps to require that vehicles meet stricter low-emissions standards, standards that even the auto industry has embraced," Hickenlooper stated. "It’s shameful that President Trump would actively undo the critical progress we’ve made. It’s time for change in Washington and for Colorado to have a senator who will stand up for our state (and our planet).”
Gardner in July announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation would provide the Denver Regional Transportation District $2.6 million to buy low- or no-emissions vehicles.
He supported the money as a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.
And in May Gardner cheered ExxonMobil's $100 million investment in lower-emissions research and development with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and National Energy Technology Laboratory in Golden (NREL).
“It’s crucial that our state continues to support innovative lower-emissions research and development in order to enhance the transportation, power generation, and industrial sectors across Colorado and the country," Gardner said at the time. "I will continue to advocate for the collaborative energy research being done at NREL.”
Gardner has said climate change is real and that pollution caused by humans is a contributor, though left-leaning politicos and environmental groups have sought to cast him and Trump in the same dim light.
The left cried foul in December when Gardner, vulnerable in 2020, picked up a major science award from the American Geophysical Union, which he shared with Democratic Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan for their work on bipartisan legislation to advance science policy.