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Minnesota drives forward with clean car standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

 

December 21, 2020



The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) today announced it is moving forward with its proposed clean car standards similar to those in 14 other states, including Colorado and Maine. If approved by an administrative law judge, Minnesota’s clean car standards would apply to new vehicles and are anticipated to take effect beginning with model year 2025 (January 2024).

Minnesota’s proposed clean car rule would adopt two new emission standards used in many parts of the country.

Low emission vehicle (LEV) standard fortifies standard for today’s new vehicles

The LEV standard regulates the amount of greenhouse gases and other harmful air pollution that new vehicles can emit. The LEV standard only applies to new light- and medium-duty vehicles like cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks. The LEV standard does not apply to off-road or farming equipment, heavy-duty vehicles, or used vehicles, and it does not require emissions testing. It also does not prevent the use of biofuels and other cleaner fuels.

Most importantly, all new vehicles sold in Minnesota since 2012 currently meet the LEV standard. Between 2012 and 2020, the United States only had one, unified standard – meaning the federal standard was aligned with the LEV standard. In March 2020, the federal government rolled back existing emissions standards, which could mean weaker environmental protections for our state if we don’t act.

Zero emission vehicle (ZEV) standard brings more hybrid and electric vehicles to Minnesota

The ZEV standard requires auto manufacturers to deliver more battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid models for sale in Minnesota, increasing each year. The exact number of vehicles is linked to the automaker’s overall sales within the state. The ZEV standard calls for incremental progress over time, not sudden, overnight change.

Minnesota has been on the tail end of receiving electric vehicles, and there are more makes and models available in ZEV states than Minnesotans can easily acquire here. A July 2020 survey found that Twin Cities auto dealers had only 171 new hybrids and electric vehicles on their lots out of more than 19,300 total vehicles for sale. In Greater Minnesota, consumers had even fewer options with no new hybrid and electric vehicles available in Duluth, Marshall, and Bemidji, and just 11 for sale in Rochester. Adopting the ZEV standard would ensure that Minnesota is at the forefront of receiving this new innovation.

“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,” said Laura Bishop, MPCA commissioner. “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.”

The MPCA’s Notice of the Intent to Adopt Rule will be published in the State Register on Monday, December 21. The Office of Administrative Hearings has scheduled a two-day hearing held by the presiding administrative law judge, Judge Palmer-Denig, on February 22-23, 2021 starting at 3 p.m. each day. In January, the MPCA also will hold four online information sessions on the following dates and times:

• Tuesday, January 19, 2021, at 10 a.m.

• Wednesday, January 20, 2021, at 5 p.m.

• Wednesday, January 27, 2021, at 1 p.m.

• Tuesday, February 2, 2021, at 6 p.m.

In 2007, Governor Tim Pawlenty signed the bipartisan Next Generation Energy Act into law, setting statutory goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15% from 2005 levels by 2015, by 30% by 2025, and by 80% by 2050. Minnesota missed the 2015 target and is not on track to meet future goals, either. Between 2005 and 2018, overall greenhouse gas emissions in Minnesota decreased by just 8%.

To get back on track, Minnesota must take swift action in all sectors, including transportation. Right now the transportation sector is the single largest source of climate-changing pollution in Minnesota. According to public input gathered during the 2019 Pathways to Decarbonizing Transportation in Minnesota project, Minnesotans want and expect action from state leaders for cleaner, lower-carbon transportation options, including adopting clean car standards. Once implemented, Minnesota’s clean car standards will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 8.4 million tons in the first 10 years, and the clean air and climate benefits will continue to grow over time.

The MPCA works with partners across the private, public, and non-profit sectors to advance electric vehicles in Minnesota, including funding needed for electric vehicle charging infrastructure. In recent years, MPCA has used funding from the national Volkswagen settlement to build more than 1,100 miles of electric vehicle charging corridors in Greater Minnesota, and will continue expanding this statewide network by another 2,500 miles starting next year.

More information about the proposed rule, public hearing, and how to participate in the process will be available on the MPCA's website: mn.gov/cleancars

 

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