Freedom fighters for the right to pollute likely will be furiously rolling coal in protest, but it won’t make any difference.

The era of the gas-powered vehicle is over. It’s the stodgy landline of the transportation sector. 

 As my 12-year-old grandson would say, it’s technology from way back in the 1900s.

So, when the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission voted last week to require 80% of new vehicles sold in the state be electric by 2032, it was positively yawn-inducing. The biggest complaints were that it was such a wimpy approach. Why not 100% by 2035?

For anyone who regularly breathes the air on the Front Range, the ruling is a ridiculously obvious — if overdue — measure to address some of the worst air pollution in the country.

The American Lung Association gives Denver, Fort Collins and much of the Front Range a solid F in air quality, with unhealthy ozone pollution being consistently the worst of our many longstanding environmental embarrassments.

So, in addition to forcing Suncor to refrain from spewing plumes of carcinogens from its Commerce City refinery and getting oil and gas operations to stop venting pollutants willy-nilly into our lungs, reducing the number of gas-powered vehicles on the roads could finally make it safe for children to play outside again.

And while people always find it hard to change — some more than others — the transition to EVs will be ridiculously easy.

With federal and state tax credits and cash-for-clunker programs, EV prices are competitive with comparable gas-powered vehicles and, with no need for the regular oil changes and other routine maintenance required for internal combustion engines, operating costs are markedly lower.

EVs are quiet, fast and fun to drive. 

Plus, there’s nothing quite as satisfying after a lifetime of being held hostage by Big Oil as not caring — or even knowing — about the price of gasoline from week to week. 

Talk about freedom.

As for the need for more EV charging stations, it’s real. But you can bet your last stolen catalytic converter that a requirement for more EVs will spark a frenzy of development of new chargers in neighborhoods, office buildings, public facilities and along secondary highways.

The AQCC’s new policy will supercharge the production of superchargers.

In fact, it’s already happening.

Michael Booth reported last week on a new solar power station installed at Northeast Early College in Denver to provide enough clean energy to power the school and several EV charging stations on campus.

It’s one of 12 sites installing the solar canopies under grants from the city’s Office of Climate Action, Sustainability and Resiliency. Denver expects to be reimbursed for the grant money through federal tax credits and Xcel energy credits. 

Still, just because it’s good public policy doesn’t mean the AQCC’s 80% by 2032 measure will slip by without the usual handwringing from the fossil fuel free market evangelists.

They are as predictable as they are out of touch, and like the dinosaurs they capitalize on, they’re doomed to extinction.

Holding on to outmoded technologies is a sure path to — as Dr. Rick in the insurance company commercials says — becoming your parents. The thing that makes the ads so funny is we see that hidebound behavior all around us.

But it’s not funny when the dinosaurs stand in the way of efforts to create a healthier, more economically vital community.

Historically, whenever new rules to protect the environment are passed, the dinosaurs predict calamity far and wide. It doesn’t happen. Instead, whole new economic opportunities blossom in the rubble of obsolete dirty industries.

In the 1970s, when Oregon passed the country’s first Bottle Bill, the beverage container industry threw a hissy fit, predicting public outrage and soaring prices. Neither materialized.

Instead, the movement to recycle cans and bottles spread around the world and recycled cans account for a huge percentage of the aluminum produced today. An estimated 75% of all aluminum produced is still in circulation.

Similarly, when Colorado became the first state to pass a ballot initiative creating a renewable energy portfolio standard in 2004, opponents from the dirty energy industry predicted higher costs and said the goal of producing 10% of energy from renewables by 2015 was unreachable.

In fact, the transition to renewables was so successful, the utilities beat the deadlines and the state proceeded to implement much more aggressive goals as the cost of fossil fuels continued its volatility and the price of renewables declined steadily and dramatically.

Instead of setting Colorado back, the standards jump-started our clean energy economy.

Colorado’s efforts to make it easier and more affordable to drive EVs will surely mirror the success we’ve seen from the renewable energy portfolio standards that seemed audacious 20 years ago and, looking back, seem matter of fact.

So, let’s get real. 

There’s nothing to fear from the EV transition. It’s here and the air will be so much clearer. Get used to it.

And trust me, you’re gonna love the ride.

Diane Carman is a Denver communications consultant.

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