Minnesota is on the verge of becoming the first state in the Midwest to adopt the Clean Car standards like those used on the West and East Coasts that are tougher than those enforced by the federal government.
After a long standoff in the Minnesota legislature that threatened to shut down Minnesota’s parks before a holiday weekend, Senate Republicans dropped demands the state’s Democratic governor, Tim Walz, abandon the new clean cars emissions standards, according to The Minneapolis Star Tribune.
The environment bill which contains the proposed emission standards also included funds the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Zoo, among other areas, the newspaper reported.
Paul Gazelka, the Republican Senate majority leader, told reporters he does not like the clean cars rule, which requires automakers to provide more electric vehicles for sale in Minnesota. He believes the rules should become an issue in 2024 when they are implemented and when Walz faces re-election.
Fourteen other states employ similar rules
To date, 14 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the LEV standard, and 12 states have adopted both the LEV and ZEV standards. Colorado is the most recent state to adopt both standards. As of December 2020, New Mexico and Nevada are also pursuing adopting the same standards.
Many automakers have jumped in to support those states. In early 2020, several automakers agreed to a compromise standard with California, which was engaged in a court battle with the Trump administration to retain its ability to set its own fuel economy and emissions standards.
Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, BMW and Volvo signed on to the deal, which was less stringent than what the state originally proposed. After Joe Biden won the election, several other automakers shifted support to California, including General Motors, Fiat Chrysler and others.
Minnesota, however, would become the first Midwestern states to opt for the tougher standards.
Optimism about final outcome
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency spokesman Darin Broton said the agency was “cautiously optimistic” about the bill.
The new standards would require carmakers to ensure 20% of the vehicles sold in Minnesota run on batteries.
As written the Minnesota rules are relatively modest. The rules specifically do not apply to off-road or heavy-duty vehicles or equipment like farm equipment or semi trucks. The rules do not apply to existing vehicles or used vehicles and do not require emissions tests.
Plenty of exemptions
Minnesota officials also were careful to ensure no one is required to purchase an electric vehicle. The legislation does not affect biofuels or prevent Minnesota from supporting cleaner fuels.
“There are more makes and models of EVs available in states that have adopted the ZEV standard than Minnesotans can easily acquire here. As manufacturers announce more new electric SUVs, trucks, and cars on the way, Minnesota should be at the forefront of receiving this new technology and more options for consumers. More new EVs on the market here could lead to more used EVs becoming available for consumers, too,” according to the Minnesota Pollution Control website.
“Minnesota needs to meet its goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30% by 2025 and 80% by 2050. However, we missed our target in 2015 and are not on track to meet future goals either,” the website adds.
According to the State of Minnesota’s website, transportation is currently the largest source of climate-changing pollution there. Light- and medium-duty vehicles produce more than half of all transportation emissions in Minnesota. The state set a goal for 20% of all passenger vehicles in the state to be electric by 2030. Under the federal Clean Air Act from 1970, individual states can choose to either follow federal emissions standards or adopt the more stringent clean car standards.