There are currently seventeen states whose vehicle emissions standards are tied to those established in California. These states must decide whether or not to adopt the country’s strictest new regulations, which mandate that all new cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs be powered by electricity or hydrogen by the year 2035.
The federal Clean Air Act mandates that all states obey the EPA’s minimum car emissions limits unless they want to adopt California’s more stringent rules. The ban on sales of new gasoline-powered automobiles in California is expected to be followed by some other states, including Washington, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, and Vermont.
Some states that aren’t likely to join are Colorado and Pennsylvania. In Minnesota, where the “clean cars” mandate has been a political minefield and the subject of litigation, the legal basis is less clear. While everything is going on, a revolt among Republicans in Virginia is taking place.
The Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association claims that the state will be forced to adopt the new California regulations regardless of whether or not it tries to prevent their implementation.
Scott Lambert, president of the trade association, said, “The technology is such that the vehicles just don’t operate as well in cold weather.” Obviously, “not every one of us is based in sunny California.”
Officials at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said their state would have to begin a fresh regulatory process from scratch to adopt California’s new regulations. They have declared they have no intention of doing so at this time in both legal documents and legislative testimony.
We are not the Golden State. The state of Minnesota “has its plan,” Governor Tim Walz stated. The initiative in Minnesota is “a clever strategy to extend, rather than constrain, consumers’ options,” he said. The people of Minnesota should be able to afford and choose the vehicle that best suits them, which is why we are working to reduce costs and increase options.
The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services is soliciting public comments on whether to adopt the new California rules through September 7th. The administration of Democratic Governor Jared Polis has stated that Colorado regulators would not adhere to the new California regulations.
According to the Colorado Energy Office, “although the governor shares the aim of rapidly transitioning to electric vehicles, he is skeptical that 100% of automobiles sold will be electric by a given date” due to the rapid advancement of technology.
Pennsylvania regulators have stated that they will not automatically implement the new rules, despite partially accepting California’s previous ones. Pennsylvania’s last Democratic governor, Tom Wolf, began the process of regulating the state to correspond to California standards last year completely, but he ultimately abandoned it.
A law passed last year when Democrats held sway in Virginia’s government set the state on a path to replicate California’s regulations. However, Republicans in the House and Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin have pledged to make secession a priority.
Car dealerships in Minnesota want to make the issue of whether or not to tighten regulations in light of California’s new limits a campaign issue this autumn. Unless they can first win in court, traders intend to convince the 2023 legislature to repeal the restrictions, and Lambert says that control of the legislature and the governor’s office is at stake.
After a heated debate with Republican lawmakers who felt left out of the issue, the MPCA adopted California’s existing requirements last year with Walz’s support by crafting administrative regulations. The legislature even attempted but failed to cut funding for environmental groups in Minnesota. One such victim was MPCA commissioner Laura Bishop, who resigned after it became clear that she would not be confirmed by the Senate, which is currently controlled by the Republican Party.
To assist the state to achieve its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, Governor Walz and his administration pitched the Clean Cars Rule as a relatively straightforward approach to expanding access to electric vehicles. Starting with the 2025 model year, automakers must meet California’s current low and zero-emission vehicle regulations to sell electric and hybrid cars.
Lambert claimed that car dealerships in his state do not have a hostile stance toward EVs. He predicts continued growth in demand for them, as they currently account for 2.3% of new car sales in Minnesota. However, he noted that the battery-powered vehicles are less appealing in the northern regions due to their reduced range in cold weather.
He said that if Minnesota adopted California’s restriction, it would only make matters worse for dealers forced to stock more electric vehicles than consumers would be willing to purchase. As Lambert sees it, the federal law requires all states to adopt California’s rules or follow the less strict federal emissions limits.
He insisted that they couldn’t cherry-pick individuals. He added that “the sale of conventionally powered automobiles” will be prohibited in Minnesota as of the 2035 model year. Even though Lambert’s group had already filed an appeal against Minnesota’s existing clean car laws with the Minnesota Court of Appeals, he still wanted California to implement the revisions it announced last month.
To the traders, the question of whether “future modifications to the incorporated California regulations will immediately become part of the Minnesota regulations” is crucial. The MPCA’s legal team has argued otherwise and asked the court to throw out the case. Katrina Kessler, the commissioner of the MPCA, has been making these points for months, most recently in March before a skeptical Senate state committee.
The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy’s chief strategy officer Aaron Klemz admitted the ambiguity of the legal landscape. The Center plans to present its arguments against the dealers in court. Furthermore, he stated that it is unclear whether or not his organization will eventually ask Minnesota to adopt California’s new restriction.
Klemz remarked that at this time, it was too early to tell whether or not Minnesota would seek to follow the California rule. He mentioned further factors, such as the recent passage of an anti-inflation bill by President Joe Biden and the stated intent of some major automakers to switch to all-electric vehicles.