Have questions about the rulemaking process for Minnesota’s clean car standards? We’re here to break down the most important aspects for you. 

Rulemaking is an important part of the lawmaking process, but it does not require a ballot measure or a legislative bill. State lawmakers and officials often direct administrative offices to propose rules to implement the statues they are responsible for. For example, elections statutes say that the Secretary of State must provide absentee ballot materials, but do not give details on everything that needs to go on those materials. Creating a rule provides clarity and uniformity so that all voters receive the same absentee ballot materials and information when they apply. [Source]

In September 2019, Governor Tim Walz asked the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to adopt two clean car standards:

  • The Low-Emission Vehicle (LEV) standard is focused on the tailpipe emissions of conventional cars, trucks and SUVs. It requires manufacturers to deliver vehicles to the Minnesota market that produce lower greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants, typically by improving fuel economy.
  • The Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) standard requires manufacturers to deliver more vehicles with ultra-low or zero tailpipe emissions, increasing consumer choice for these options in Minnesota. 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.

To date, 14 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the LEV standard, and 11 states have adopted both the LEV and ZEV standards.

The MPCA has the authority to act on reducing emissions in order to protect our air, our water, and our health. The state legislature has authorized the MPCA to adopt “maximum allowable standards of emission of air contaminants from motor vehicles” under Minn Statute 116.07 subd. 2(a).

The Steps of Rulemaking

In Minnesota, the rulemaking process includes [Source]:

  1. A public feedback period on the proposed rule, including an opportunity to submit comments online and attend events.
  2. Release of the draft rule, along with a notice of intent to move forward with the process.
  3. A second public feedback period. Note: This period has not been announced yet for clean car standards.
  4. The office carefully considers all comments received during public feedback.
  5. Administrative processes and reviews, including the possibility of a public hearing.
  6. An Administrative Law Judge will review proposed rules and all public comments to make a final determination on whether the proposed rules are needed and reasonable.

Clean Cars Minnesota Rulemaking: What’s Happened So Far

In fall 2019, the MPCA conducted a series of public meetings and technical presentations to inform the public of the proposed rulemaking and ask for feedback. The first public comment period ended in December 2019 and received significant support for clean cars from Minnesotans across the state.

Clean Cars Minnesota Rulemaking: What’s to Come

The next step in the rulemaking is for the MPCA to publish an official “Notice of Intent to Adopt Rule With a Hearing” and “Statement of Need and Reasonableness” (SONAR) for the two parts of the clean cars standards. This is the agency’s formal release of their intent for the new rule and an invitation to hear your comments through a simple website submission. [Source]

Public hearing dates will be set by the Office of Administrative Hearings, with the schedule likely posted with the Notice of Intent to Adopt. The hearings will be overseen by an Administrative Law Judge, who will also be in charge of reviewing all public comments and deciding if the rule may be adopted as is or with modifications. The hearings will be a forum to provide oral testimony and/or submit written comments. Both oral testimony and written comments hold the same weight when being considered by the judge.

The agency will also be holding a series of information meetings prior to the public hearing to answer questions regarding the clean cars rule and SONAR. Unlike last fall, these meetings are not forums to share opinions or public comments. All such comments should be directed to the website or the public hearings.

After the judge makes a decision, the agency will review it and incorporate any recommendations into the final rule. The administration will then publish the rule and Minnesota will become the 15th state to adopt clean cars standards!

Delays from COVID-19

The Notice and SONAR were originally expected to be published in spring 2020. However, the agency announced in early April that the publication is delayed until further notice. While the agency has indicated they will conclude the rulemaking before the end of the year, no further information on schedule is known at this time. We will update this post once more is known.

What You Can Do

If you would like to be notified when the MPCA makes an announcement and when you can submit a comment, make sure to sign up for our email updates.

If you have any questions about how the rulemaking process works, reach out on Facebook and Twitter, or email us at minnesotansforcleancars@gmail.com. Together, we can make Minnesota a healthier and cleaner state.