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Opinion Columns

Opinion: It’s time for Colorado to adopt a standard for electric vehicles

The automobile is a symbol of American freedom. It has a particularly special place for us in Colorado and the rest of the West.

Since the first automobiles started rolling across America, they have evolved significantly, based on what consumers want from their vehicles — performance, smoother rides, more technology, safety, efficiency and beyond.

Megan Rast

Now, as consumers learn about and test drive electric vehicles, they want them, and they want more models. Consumers want these vehicles for varying reasons — less pollution, lower cost of ownership, driving experience and more.

But, today, auto manufacturers don’t sell every model of currently available electric vehicle here in our state. That needs to change — and it can.

Currently, Colorado is considering adopting a Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) standard. If our state Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) votes in August to adopt this standard it would bring more models of electric vehicles that Coloradans like me want — including SUVs and crossovers.

These vehicles are being made and sold elsewhere; we just can’t buy them in Colorado. Giving people in Colorado greater freedom of choice in the marketplace is a value we can all share.

I drive an electric vehicle and have since 2014. My EV provides me the freedom to drive without contributing to local air pollution that can hide our beloved Rocky Mountains from view and makes people sick. 

My EV is powered increasingly by cleaner energy as the grid transitions to renewable energy, saves me money at the gas pump and on maintenance. And often not talked about, it provides me the freedom to accelerate at the rate of most sports cars. Contrary to pesky rumors about eco-friendly cars, EVs are really fun to drive.

I also support building out the charging infrastructure we need across the state. More fast-charging stations are popping up every week, it seems, and recent legislation signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis will help speed up infrastructure development across Colorado. 

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

While we need more charging stations statewide, it’s important to note that I’ve never been stranded, and there is no evidence that electric vehicles run out of charge more often than conventional gas cars run out of gasoline.

If a gas car driver runs out of fuel on the side of the road, we consider it “operator error.” With EV drivers it is no different. Handy apps or onboard vehicle technology help connect the driver to charging stations, just like apps that help find gas stations. 

Being a responsible driver means paying attention to the level of what powers your car, whether that’s gas or electricity. 

What’s more, unlike gas cars that don’t come with a full tank every morning, most electric vehicles start each day 100% fully charged. Also, more than half of electric vehicles on the market are plug-in hybrid EVs, meaning that they have a back-up gas engine for longer road trips. 

The zero-emission vehicle program has been in place for almost a decade in 10 other states.

As consumers increasingly demand more electric vehicles, it’s time for Colorado to get with the program, too, and adopt a ZEV standard.

Megan Rast was born in Colorado, and has done a variety of environmental work, as a contractor to the Environmental Protection Agency, performing fieldwork on an endangered species in South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal, and leading sustainability, renewable energy and supply chain inclusion efforts at multiple Fortune 500 companies.  

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