Senate Republicans held two hearings this week to once again discuss Governor Walz’s proposed Clean Cars rules, despite having held hearings on the topic within the past year. A joint hearing was held by the Environment and Natural Resources Finance Committee and the Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Legacy Finance Committee, and another hearing on the topic was held later in the week by the Transportation Committee. Both focused on a key climate change initiative to adopt California’s stricter car emissions standards.
Proposed by the governor in September 2019, the initiative involves the state’s adoption of stronger low emission vehicle (LEV) standards and zero emission vehicle (ZEV) standards, following the lead of 14 other states and the District of Columbia. The proposal would require manufacturers to deliver more vehicles to the Minnesota market that produce lower greenhouse gas emissions and more vehicles with ultra-low or zero tailpipe emissions. As of January 2019, only 19 of the approximately 43 electric vehicle models available in the United States were available for sale in Minnesota, so implementing the rules would open up the electric vehicle market for Minnesotans interested in purchasing one.
During the hearing, MPCA was able to clarify some of the misinformation currently being circulated by some parties about the rules, including a claim recently published in an editorial by a Republican legislator that the new rule would block the sale of new cars with internal combustion engines by the year 2035 – a claim that is false. Additionally, under the proposed rules, no one would be required to give up their current vehicle, nor would they be required to submit to emissions inspections or purchase an electric vehicle, and Minnesotans would still be allowed to purchase a pick-up truck or other SUV if they choose to do so.
After holding several public meetings across the state during the initial open comment and feedback period, MPCA has officially moved forward with their intent to adopt the rules. The rules are now currently undergoing a public comment period, and comments may be submitted online at the Minnesota Office of Administrative hearing’s website. The current period for public comment is scheduled to close on Mar. 15, 2021, but there will be further opportunities for Minnesotans to weigh in on the topic after that date.