Senate Republicans seek to restrict consumer choice

A bill heard in the Senate Environment Policy Committee this week repeals the state’s Clean Cars rules and restrict state agencies from adopting additional rules and regulations related to a number of gas-powered vehicles and equipment, not just cars. Ironically named the Consumer Choice of Fuel Act, the bill instead limits the number of electric vehicle models available for Minnesota consumers to choose from.

In a time when gas prices are on the rise, advancing this legislation is not only irresponsible from an environmental perspective, it will also cost Minnesotans more money at the fuel pump when many are seeking to ditch their gas-powered vehicles for electric models. Manufacturers prioritize sending certain models to states that have adopted more stringent vehicle emissions standards, so Minnesota’s electric vehicle market currently only sees a fraction of the models available elsewhere. The Clean Cars rules, officially adopted by MPCA as of December 2021, require these manufacturers to deliver an increasing percentage of electric vehicle models to the Minnesota market. Contrary to Senate Republican claims, these rules do not impose a requirement on the state’s automobile dealers to carry any specific models, nor do they require any Minnesotan to give up their gas-powered vehicles in favor of electric models.

Supporters of this legislation argue the MPCA overstepped its authority by adopting the rules and should have instead turned to the Legislature to codify these changes in statute; the error with this claim, however, is that under current law, MPCA is permitted to adopt rules to regulate the maximum allowable emissions of air contaminants from motor vehicles. This authority was granted to the agency by the Legislature over 50 years ago.

Minnesotans statewide currently face more pressing issues, but Senate Republicans have chosen to, once again, spend their time focusing on the Clean Cars rules. Senate DFLers have introduced bills this session to protect and enhance the environment and our natural resources, further environmental justice initiatives in the state, and reduce pollution to mitigate the impacts of climate change, among other things – none of these bills have been granted committee hearings under Senate Republican leadership. Despite this, we will continue to fight to ensure every Minnesotan has healthy air, sustainable lands, clean air, and a better climate.

The legislation passed along party lines and was sent to the committee on State Government. (SF 3065)

Senate DFL Media