Minn. drives toward tougher standards

Source: By Maxine Joselow, E&E News reporter • Posted: Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Minnesota today moved to formally adopt California’s tougher clean car rules, as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to set more protective standards nationwide.

In a notice in the State Register, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency outlined plans to follow the Golden State’s low-emission vehicle and zero-emission vehicle regulations.

If approved by an administrative law judge, the rules would apply to new passenger cars and light trucks beginning in January 2024.

“Minnesotans expect action to address our current climate crisis. That’s why the MPCA is using every available tool to address greenhouse gas emissions, including clean car standards that reduce emissions and increase electric vehicle options,” MPCA Commissioner Laura Bishop said in a statement.

“Clean car standards, along with the electric school bus pilot project and supporting homegrown energy like biofuels, are part of a multipronged approach to reduce greenhouse emissions in our transportation sector,” Bishop added.

Thirteen other states and the District of Columbia already follow California’s low-emission vehicle standards, representing more than 40% of all new cars sold in the country.

Nine states currently follow California’s ZEV regulations, which require automakers to sell a certain percentage of battery-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) first announced plans to pursue the tougher climate rules for cars in September 2019 (E&E News PM, Sept. 25, 2019).

But the North Star State delayed its rulemaking process in April, citing concerns about giving the public enough time to comment amid the COVID-19 pandemic (Climatewire, April 7).

Minnesotans can still submit comments and questions to an administrative law judge before a public hearing set for Feb. 22 and 23, 2021.

President Trump spent his first term weakening the nationwide clean car standards established by former President Obama.

Soon after taking office on Jan. 20, Biden is expected to direct EPA and the Department of Transportation to set aggressive new rules.

“The current administration reversed the Obama-Biden fuel-efficiency standards and picked Big Oil companies over the American workers,” Biden said at a Saturday event where he announced his climate-related nominees.

“Our administration will not only bring those standards back — we will set new, ambitious ones that our workers are ready to meet,” the former vice president added.