Colorado to adopt California's stricter auto pollution rules

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"Low emissions vehicles are increasingly popular with consumers and are better for our air", Hickenlooper said in a statement after signing an executive order that puts the state on a path toward adopting the California standards by the end of the year.

Hickenlooper said the strict standards are important to Colorado, citing climate change and noting the state's elevation makes pollution worse. "It's critical for Coloradans' health and Colorado's future that we meet these challenges head-on".

Colorado becomes the first interior USA state to join the list of states to opt out from under federal standards and adopt their own. ". Nothing in this Executive Order shall be construed to cause interference with routine state law enforcement activities, even if such activity results in independent federal law enforcement involvement and enforcement of federal immigration laws".

A legal showdown between the Trump administration and California is expected over that state's decision to set emission requirements that are more stringent than under the Clean Air Act.

Hickenlooper said he and his office have been examining other ways to push back against the Trump administration's immigration policies, including in instances where people are referred to federal immigration officials from state authorities. The District of Columbia has also adopted the rules.

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The states that now apply California's rules are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Tim Jackson, CEO and president of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association, said according to most recent reports on vehicle sales, Coloradans drive more trucks than Californians do.

"We're disappointed that the state of Colorado, the governor, or regulatory board or anybody else would cede air quality control regulation to an out-of-state, unelected board in Sacramento (California)", said Tim Jackson, president of the association. The Obama administration's rules, negotiated with automakers in 2011, aimed at increasing average fleet-wide fuel efficiency to about 50 miles per gallon by 2025. That's about 10 mpg (4 kilometers per liter) over the existing standard.

But the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers has said there's no lack of new vehicles coming to market, nor a lack of rules and other mandates.

The order requires the state Department of Public Health and Environment to develop a rule that would establish the LEV program and, in part, incorporate some of the requirements already in place in California.

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, a Republican who often has opposed government regulations and is sympathetic to the oil and gas industry, did not return a request for comment on whether Colorado will defend California's stance.

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