On September 25, 2019, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced “Clean Cars Minnesota” — a new package of vehicle emissions standards that will reduce transportation pollution and improve the options that Minnesotans have for purchasing zero and low-emission vehicles.
This is a critical step forward for Minnesota’s efforts to reduce dangerous climate pollution and secure cleaner air and water throughout our state. According to a report earlier this year by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the transportation sector is now Minnesota’s single largest source of pollution that contributes to climate change. Addressing these unchecked emissions is a critical first step toward meeting Minnesota’s greenhouse gas reduction goals, which our state consistently failed to meet.
Presently, there are more than 40 models of electric vehicles sold in the U.S., but less than half are available at Minnesota auto dealers. This proposal will increase access to and demand for electric vehicles. In fact, from 2011 to 2016, the number of plug-in electric vehicles sold annually in the U.S. increased tenfold. The states that have adopted the Zero-Emission Vehicle standard account for a third of all electric vehicle sales in the U.S., which is considerable given how few states have these standards.
Governor Walz has asked the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to consider the adoption of two rules: the Low-Emission Vehicle standard and the Zero-Emission Vehicle standard. Neither rule requires a personal vehicle inspection program nor any individual to purchase an electric vehicle.
The Low-Emission Vehicle (LEV) standard requires manufacturers to deliver vehicles to the Minnesota market that produce lower greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants. The LEV standard is tailored to the size of the vehicle, so SUVs and pickup trucks meet a different, less stringent standard than passenger cars. Created in 2012, the LEV standard has been adopted by fourteen states and the District of Columbia.
The Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) standard requires manufacturers to deliver more vehicles with ultra-low or zero tailpipe emissions for sale in Minnesota, increasing each year. In January 2019, there were approximately 43 electric vehicle models available in the U.S., but only 19 of those were available in Minnesota. The ZEV standard will mean Minnesotans will have more options for electric vehicles that fit their budget and lifestyle.
Car buyers in clean car states have a lot more clean car models to choose from – including crossovers and SUVs – and Minnesota should have all those options available here. A recent study found that 6 in every 10 prospective car buyers in Minnesota has interest in electric cars, trucks and SUVs. The survey also found that 66 percent of prospective Minnesota car buyers want automakers to provide more types of electric vehicles. Adopting the clean car program would help ensure Minnesotans can find these kinds of electric vehicles in the coming years.
The best way to support our work right now is to sign this petition. We will be announcing important events and actions as they arise throughout the year. Minnesota’s public rulemaking process is already underway. Finalizing the rule will take some time. Should the standards be adopted in late 2020, a mandatory implementation time of two model years will follow with the goal of having the state’s new standards fully in place no later than the 2024 model year.