California move to ban new gas-powered cars puts Walz’s rules in limbo

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Gov. Tim Walz invested a lot of political capital in Minnesota to adopt stricter vehicle emission standards.

Walz declared that Minnesota would follow California’s lead and require automakers to produce more electric cars for sale in Minnesota in his first year of office. Republicans repeatedly criticized the unilateral decision and said that EVs should be forced on uninterested drivers.

All of it came to an end last year when Walz, the commissioner for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, resigned instead of being fired by the Republican-led Senate.


The regulations may now be temporary, lasting only one year due to a California move.

California has the unique power to create its own emission rules. Other states have the option of following California’s lead or adopting federal regulations that are more stringent. What happens if California, which announced its intention to drastically alter its emission rules last month by deciding to ban all new gas-powered cars from 2035 onwards?

States such as Washington and Massachusetts said, “We are in.”


Officials in Minnesota say they have two choices: either revert to federal standards or join California in imposing a stricter rule to quickly reform Minnesota’s transportation sector. This sector accounts for around a quarter the state’s total greenhouse gas emissions.


Walz’s regulators claim they are focused on implementing California’s old standards even though they won’t be in place for more than a year.


“We will continue to follow the Minnesota plan.” “We will continue following the Minnesota plan .”

How Minnesota followed California’s lead


Because it doesn’t want confusing regulations that automakers have to follow, the federal government regulates automobile emissions. California has the authority to establish its own regulations. This power dates back to 1960s, when California was fighting smog.


Other states cannot create their own regulations. They can, however, adopt California’s regulations. Many have.

Walz declared his intention to adopt two California mandates in September 2019. One governing low emission vehicles (LEV) and one regulating zero emissions vehicles (ZEV). Both mandates are intended to work together, cleaning up old gas vehicles and stimulating Minnesota’s electric vehicle market.


These regulations are part of a larger effort to combat climate change. They will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state’s transport sector. Although the state has made progress in reducing carbon emissions from electricity generation, it has been more difficult to reduce emissions from transportation.

Minnesota’s low-emission vehicle standards require automakers to make traditional gas cars that emit less pollution for sale. These rules are less controversial in that they closely match Obama-era regulations, which were mostly aligned to California. They were then rolled back under Trump and aligned again with current California laws.


The zero-emission vehicle standard is still controversial. The state requires automakers to deliver more electric, plug in hybrid, or hydrogen-powered vehicles.

The MPCA estimates that EVs will make up 6.2% to 7.4% in new light-duty vehicle sales in Minnesota between 2025 and 2034 to meet the ZEV standard. Officials from the state expected that new EV sales would rise even without California regulations. However, it was not as high.

The regulations were approved last July despite opposition from both auto dealers, who feared the rules would reduce their sales and cost them more, and Republicans, who argued that the standards would force EVs onto people who don’t want them or before the technology is practical, particularly in rural areas.

California limits on new gasoline cars


California has made a dramatic change to these rules just a year after the original rule was adopted. California officials approved a plan in August to require that all new cars sold by 2035 (including SUVs, pickups, and vans) be “zero-emission vehicles”.

The plan won’t affect the sales of used cars. In other states, people can still purchase new traditional gas-powered cars. Plug-in hybrid vehicles, which run on gasoline, are also allowed by the rules. The change is nonetheless significant. These regulations will take effect in model year 2026. This means that 35 percent of all new cars sold by car manufacturers must be either electric or plug-in hybrid. It will increase over time.


Officials in Minnesota have maintained for a long time that Minnesota does not have to follow California’s new standards. Minnesota cannot just maintain what it has. The MPCA must decide whether to adopt stricter regulations or return to federal standards. However, this decision doesn’t have to be taken immediately or at all.


Minnesota’s zero-emission vehicle rules are effective in model year 2025. This is January 2024. If Minnesota chooses to follow the stricter California regulations, the program could be extended for only one year. According to MPCA officials, Minnesota could adopt the California model-year 2035 sales ban anytime before or after the close of the local program.


California’s new standards are not as tough as the ZEV rules Minnesota adopted. Minnesota was late to adopt them, so the zero-emission vehicle limit for automakers would have reached its maximum after 2024.

It could also provide some benefits for manufacturers before 2024. Manufacturers can use the credit system established by the ZEV rule to meet their obligations. In an effort to encourage early adoption by the industry, the rules allow manufacturers to get credit for delivering ZEVs.


California’s new rules have a significant impact. There would be no quota in Minnesota for electric vehicles if there were not ZEV regulations.

This means that Walz’s actual climate impact could be minimal. In 2020, the state stated that their regulations would reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This includes both vehicle tailpipe emissions as well as the electricity and fuel production. The state also claimed that the regulations will reduce greenhouse gases emissions by 8.4 millions tons over the first ten years of the LEV/ZEV standards being implemented. Other dangerous pollution would be reduced, according to the MPCA. This would benefit the state’s residents. According to state data, light duty trucks in Minnesota produced 15 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2018. )


However, the standards will be in effect for a year. Officials at the MPCA stated that they do not have any updated estimates on pollution reduction.

Thorny politics


MPCA believes that adopting a modified Clean Cars standard was a worthwhile decision. This is just one part of a bigger strategy to increase the market for electric cars and decrease carbon emissions.

California’s regulations and plans of car manufacturers like General Motors could drive EV adoption across the country, regardless of Minnesota regulators. The Biden administration is also considering new LEV standards after 2025, which the MPCA claims will reduce pollution.


Cournoyer, a spokeswoman for the MPCA said that Minnesota is currently focusing on the implementation of clean car standards.


Walz’s achievements in climate action were not without their vehicle regulations. Walz’s carbon reduction agenda has been stalled by the Republican-led Senate. The GOP tried hard to stop Walz implementing the regulations with no new legislative approval.


The Clean Cars standards could not be implemented if Scott Jensen, Walz’s Republican challenger, wins.


“This is a crisis.” Jensen stated at Farmfest in August that the font-weight of 400 ;”>” would be stopped in January. Jensen argued that an electric pickup truck will not have enough range to make it practical in Minnesota’s cold January. This is a crisis .”

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