CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. (AP) — It will be at least a year before Colorado adopts California's strict auto emissions standards, giving car dealers time to voice their concerns over how the regulations would affect the kind of vehicles they sell, Gov. Bill Ritter's climate adviser said Tuesday.
The California standards are part of Ritter's plan to reduce the state's greenhouse gases by 20 percent from 2005 levels by the year 2020.
The Colorado Automobile Dealers Association has warned that the industry could suffer if the state adopts California's standards, which are tougher than the current federal rules now in force in Colorado. The group says a better idea would be to offer incentives to drivers to switch to cleaner cars.
Heidi Van Genderen, Ritter's climate adviser, told an auto dealers meeting Tuesday that working to adopt California standards is not creating enemies between the state and car dealers but that Colorado's population is growing fast, which is putting pressure on the environment.
''We're coming up on 5 million (people). That means a lot more vehicles that are going to be sold,'' she said. ''How we achieve the balance in providing that incredible mobility to people and the consumer choice of that mobility, but continue to maintain air quality, is a definite challenge for us all.''
Transportation accounts for 23 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, second only to electricity production, which accounts for 36 percent of emissions, according to state figures.
Van Genderen told the car dealers the state would take one or two years to study switching to California standards.
The California requirements call for a 30 percent cut in greenhouse emissions by 2016. About 15 states, which account for 40 percent of the automobile market, already have adopted the standards. Colorado, Illinois and Utah are considering adopting them.
Studies by the California Air Resources board showed that meeting the tougher standards would add $326 to the price per car starting in 2009, said Stanley Young, spokesman for the board.
By 2016, the standards would add a little more than $1,000.
''We did our homework and we did due diligence and found many of the elements, the technology elements that will get to the reductions, are already out there on models now,'' Young said.
Those include deactivated cylinders, where some cylinders of an engine shut down while cruising at higher speeds; reduction of air flow through engines at low speeds; and electric steering that reduces drag.
''We spent three decades working with manufacturers on these standards,'' Young said.
Don Hicks, owner of Aurora-based Shortline Automotive, said many advances toward ''green'' vehicles, including hybrids and hydrogen-powered cars, came without government mandates.
''If the state adopts California's low-emission vehicle standards, there won't be any vehicles that we sell today that are eligible for purchase by our customers,'' Hicks said. ''We feel this will drive people back into older, dirtier cars.''
Jim Martin, head of the state Department of Public Health and Environment, said the state has to examine new-car emission standards anyway because the Environmental Protection Agency has declared the Denver area out of compliance with ozone standards.
He said the state will look at how effective California standards would be at lowering Colorado emissions.
The car dealers also expressed concern about how E-85 fuel — a mix of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline — would fit under the California standards. It was unclear how those rules would affect the use of E-85.
Martin said that issue will be studied.