Gov. Tim Walz announces new clean car standards for Minnesota

The move puts the governor on collision course with the Trump White House.
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Governor Tim Walz has announced new clean car standards for Minnesota that will, among other things, require car manufacturers to offer more electric vehicles for sale in the state.

Gov. Walz has directed the Minensota Pollution Control Agency to implement the measure, which he says doesn't require the approval of the legislature and which would see Minnesota join 13 other states that have adopted car emissions standards as originally set by California.

The two changes are as follows:

– The low-emission vehicle (LEV) standard requiring vehicle manufacturers to "deliver passenger cars, trucks and SUVs that produce lower greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants for sale in Minnesota," thus reducing average car emissions by an 5 percent per year through model year 2025.

– The zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) standard requiring carmakers to offer more vehicles with ultra-low or zero emission vehicles for sale in Minnesota starting in model year 2023, including electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, which the governor's office said would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2 million tons by 2030.

In a conference call with reporters, Gov. Walz said that the market will still dictate what people buy, and that Minnesotans who want to use their pickups to haul their ice houses can continue to do so.

"But we’re going to also make sure that there’s ice on that lake in January," he added, noting that there is a huge demand for electric and low-emission vehicles in Minnesota, but the choice isn't there as the state doesn't have clean car standards.

It will nonetheless set the state against the Trump administration, which is attempting to free car emissions standards and roll back California's permission to set its own emissions standards.

Minnesota is among 22 states that have joined a lawsuit seeking to uphold states' rights to set their own car emission standards.

“Climate change threatens the very things that make Minnesota a great place to live, from our magnificent 10,000 lakes to our farmable land and clean air,” said Governor Walz.

"If Washington won’t lead on climate, Minnesota will. That is why we are taking bold action to reduce carbon emissions in a way that increases car options, protects public health, creates jobs, and saves Minnesotans money at the pump."

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The measure has immediately prompted criticism from Minnesota Republicans who say it will increase vehicle prices for Minnesota consumers.

"By using rulemaking, Governor Walz is trying to by-pass the voice of the people of Minnesota to enact his own radical agenda," said Rep. Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska).

"These new standards would increase car costs and effectively eliminate many of the cars and trucks Minnesotans own and continue to rely on."

Nonetheless, the governor's office claims that the changes will save Minnesotans money at the gas pumps and in maintenance to the tune of $320 million a year in 2030 and $750 million by 2040.

"Electric vehicles are cheaper to operate and maintain than gasoline vehicles. Increasing access to these vehicles will save Minnesotans thousands of dollars over the lifetime of their car and reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil," the governor's office said.

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