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Walz administration pushing forward with proposed clean car rule

If the judge signs off following a February hearing, the rules would likely impact vehicles sold in the state beginning in January of 2024.

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An electric car charging station. Forum News Service file photo
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ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency on Friday, Dec. 18, said it planned to push forward an effort to require car manufacturers to sell low-and zero-emission vehicles in Minnesota.

MPCA Commissioner Laura Bishop said the agency in early 2021 would hold a series of information sessions about the proposed state rule changes and would seek approval from an administrative law judge to put in place the new guidelines.

If the judge signs off following a February hearing, the rules would likely affect vehicles sold in the state beginning in January 2024. The rules themselves would limit the amount of greenhouse gases new cars, SUVs and pickup trucks can emit and require manufacturers to deliver more battery-powered and hybrid models in the state.

Older models or used vehicles wouldn't be subject to the standard. Fourteen other states, including California, have adopted similar requirements.

MPCA officials said they anticipate 130 battery-powered or hybrid models would become available in the state if the rule was adopted. And over the next decade, the change could reduce the state's greenhouse gas emissions by 8.4 million tons, Bishop said.

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"In the past, we've been on the tail end of receiving these new makes and models in Minnesota and we want to ensure that Minnesota is on the forefront of receiving these new innovations," Bishop said. "Minnesotans want that choice. They want to be able to find a vehicle but they also are looking to find ways to reduce our greenhouse gases and reduce climate change."

The Pawlenty Administration in 2007 passed legislation setting goals for reducing the state's carbon footprint. The state fell short of goals laid out in the 2007 legislation for 2015 and isn't on track to reduce carbon emissions by 30% by 2025, in terms of 2005 levels.

The proposal came under fire from Republican lawmakers and auto dealers in the state who said the standard could increase car prices in the state without additional government incentives put in place.

"The MPCA is obsessed with increasing the supply of electric vehicles without addressing the barriers to demand," Minnesota Auto Dealers Association President Scott Lambert said. "Minnesota dealers would love to sell customers electric vehicles, but issues with the upfront cost, range, size, and capabilities have dampened interest. The MPCA’s proposal does nothing on the incentive end."

Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter @bydanaferguson, call 651-290-0707 or email dferguson@forumcomm.com

Dana Ferguson is a Minnesota Capitol Correspondent for Forum News Service. Ferguson has covered state government and political stories since she joined the news service in 2018, reporting on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the divided Statehouse and the 2020 election.
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