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Opinion

Colorado Can Help Usher In the Age of EVs | Opinion

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by Paul Dankers, Colorado Newsline

After owning an electric vehicle for eight years, I’m all-in for an all-electric future. EVs are healthier for people, better for the environment, and far more fun to drive than their gas-powered counterparts.

Here in Colorado, climate change is already hitting, and we have a health-threatening air quality problem. We need to do everything we can to increase EV adoption. And we’re already well on our way: EV sales are skyrocketing, Colorado has a plan to get almost 1 million EVs on the road by 2030, and tax credits from the state and federal government will help thousands of Coloradans purchase EVs.

But if we don’t ensure enough EVs are available, affordable and accessible to Coloradans, all of these initiatives could flop. We need every piece in place to make this transition work.

The next piece of the puzzle lies with the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission: passing the Advanced Clean Cars II rulemaking. This rule will require auto manufacturers to sell an increasing portion of zero-emissions vehicles every year starting in 2027. If Colorado adopts the full version of the rule, all new vehicles will be electric by 2035.

That’s music to my ears. I have always been unnerved at the sheer number of cars on the road and the environmental destruction required to produce the gas that powers them.

When my husband and I decided to buy an electric vehicle in 2015, we were nervous about the sticker price. But a $5,000 tax rebate from the state helped us afford our first EV, a Nissan Leaf.

Especially given the volatile spikes in gas prices today, the upfront costs have more than paid for themselves. As a near-daily commuter, I used to spend at least $150 per month on gas, and had repair bills in excess of $1,000 every few months. Now I spend only about $20 to $30 per month on electricity, and my only maintenance costs are tires, windshield washer fluid, wipers, and passenger air filters.

Since transportation is the No. 1 contributor to climate emissions, decarbonizing this sector couldn’t be more urgent.

More than that, I love driving EVs. They have amazing acceleration. I never have to worry about maintaining my speed while driving up a mountain pass. There’s no engine screaming in my ears. I can listen to stories and music, and I can hear my passengers when they talk.

EVs are also increasingly convenient. Public charging infrastructure has vastly improved. The state Legislature also passed a bill this year to expand charging stations and ensure residents in multifamily buildings have access to more affordable home charging options.

Most importantly, it feels good to know my car isn’t emitting toxins into the air. Even here in the beautiful Roaring Fork Valley, we have a real air pollution problem. Garfield County received a “C” on the American Lung Association’s ozone report card. And the Front Range has been designated as a “severe” violator of federal ozone standards, with the worst pollution concentrated near low-income communities and communities of color. Since transportation is the No. 1 contributor to climate emissions, decarbonizing this sector couldn’t be more urgent.

Despite all of the benefits and urgency of adopting EVs, it sometimes feels like there’s nothing but negative press on them. It’s clear there are some powerful forces that want to make sure we continue depending on oil and gas for transportation.

That’s why we need a policy in place that secures enough EV manufacturing to meet demand, show that EVs can be affordable and convenient, and usher in our electric future. Passing Advanced Clean Cars II will not only increase the number of available electric vehicles, it will also raise the bar for charging speed, safety, and battery recycling. When we pass these rules, manufacturers will bring more affordable EV models to Colorado. Plus, more EV sales will put more used EVs on the market.

The Advanced Clean Cars II rules will help Colorado take full advantage of the EV moment. I look forward to a future where everyone has access to vehicles that don’t emit toxic, climate change-causing pollution.

This story was written by Paul Dankers, director of the Aspen Choral Society and contributor to the Colorado Newsline, where this story first appeared.

Colorado Newsline is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Colorado Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Quentin Young for questions: info@coloradonewsline.com. Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.