Republicans advance legislation to stop clean cars initiative

The Transportation Committee heard a Republican-sponsored bill this week that, if enacted, would halt Governor Walz’ plan to adopt California’s clean cars standards for low- and zero-emission vehicle emissions in Minnesota. 

The governor and many others have been strong supporters of this measure that will help Minnesotans have an easier time finding and purchasing efficient vehicles of all kinds – including SUVs and pickup trucks.  The program is a win-win for Minnesota, creating more consumer choice, reducing carbon emissions to help meet Minnesota’s climate change goals, and improving public health. Fourteen other states have already adopted the California clean cars program.

In pushing forward a bill to reject the initiative, Republicans have pointed to the possibility of higher costs for consumers and difficulties for the state’s auto dealers.  Supporters of clean cars program say these fears are completely unfounded: Minnesotans stand to save hundreds of millions in fuel costs from fuel efficient, electric hybrid, and fully electric cars. 

In a recent Consumer Reports survey, 33% of prospective buyers in Minnesota said they would consider buying or leasing an electric vehicle within the next two years, and another 30% said they would be interested in buying an electric vehicle in the future.  Car charging infrastructure is expected to be rapidly built, mostly by the private market, as soon as it is assured there will be more electric cars in Minnesota.

The bill to stop the clean cars initiative passed the Transportation Committee on a straight 9-7 party-line vote, with Democrats opposing the bill.  It is expected be heard next in the State Government and Finance and Policy and Elections Committee. (SF 3496)