Court upholds Minnesota’s ‘Clean Car Rule’ tied to California – 104.5 WOKV

ST. PAUL, Minn. — (AP) — The Minnesota Court of Appeals Monday upheld the state’s “Clean Car Rule,” which ties the state’s vehicle emission standards to California regulations, as judges upheld assurances that California’s planned phase-out of gas-powered cars won. It does not apply automatically in Minnesota.

A three-judge panel rejected the arguments of the Minnesota auto dealers, who argued that state pollution regulators exceeded their authority and unconstitutionally delegated their regulatory authority to California.

The appeals court concluded that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency acted within its legal authority and therefore the state’s rule is valid. The decision was a victory for the administration of Democratic Gov. Tim Walz, which adopted the rule in 2021 amid a fight with Republican lawmakers who were upset that the Legislature was left out of the decision. It takes effect in the 2025 model year and aims to increase the supply and selection of electric vehicles.

The Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association expressed disappointment with the ruling and said it would consider appealing. While manufacturers are ramping up production, the group contends the rule could still saddle dealerships with more EVs than consumers want to buy.

“The only good thing to come out of today’s decision is that if Minnesota wants to move forward with the new rule recently adopted by California, the MPCA will need to affirmatively re-rule,” Scott Lambert, president of the dealership association, said in a statement. email.

According to the California Air Resources Board, 17 states have chosen to tie their emission standards to California’s, which are more stringent than federal regulations. Under the federal Clean Air Act, states generally must follow California standards or comply with federal standards. The problem was further exacerbated after California last August went even further, placing itself on the strictest path in the nation to require all new vehicles to be electric or hydrogen-powered by 2035.

That decision is forcing other states to decide if they now want to follow California down that path. Vermont, New York, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, and Delaware have already adopted similar new rules, started making rules, or have shown interest in doing so. Colorado has decided not to follow California’s ban, but has pledged to continue to grow its EV market and increase consumer access to more models.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals accepted the MPCA’s arguments that the state would have to start an entirely new rulemaking process to adopt California’s ban on new gasoline-powered vehicles. Agency officials said in court filings, legislative hearings and at a news conference with the governor last year that they had no immediate plans to do so, but they weren’t ruling it out either.

The agency welcomed the decision, saying the Clean Car Rule will give drivers more options to buy electric and hybrid vehicles that help them save money on gas while tackling climate change.

“This standard is an important part of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Minnesota as the state also builds out the electric vehicle charging network, promotes alternative modes of transportation, and works to create cleaner fuels that support the Minnesota’s economy,” said Andrea Cournoyer, a spokeswoman for the MPCA. .

A coalition of environmental groups that filed a friend of the court brief in the lawsuit said the sharp rise in EV registrations shows the need for the rule to ensure consumers get a full range of model choices amidst the volatility of gasoline prices.

“The Minnesota Clean Cars rule was adopted after a lengthy public engagement process, during which many Minnesotans made it clear that they would like more opportunities to purchase electric vehicles,” Joy Anderson, attorney for the Minnesota Minnesota, said in a statement. Minnesota Environmental Defense Center.

But Lambert said California’s rules never meshed well with Minnesota’s.

“This supply mandate run by California bureaucrats fails to address the major obstacles in the way of consumers using electric vehicles,” he said. “The state should institute an aggressive infrastructure construction policy and create incentives for consumers to buy this new technology.”

Upholding the Clean Car Rule was part of a broader framework to fight climate change that Walz put in place in September, and the governor affirmed his commitment in an interview earlier this month. Meanwhile, the Democrats who now control both houses of the Minnesota Legislature have made fighting climate change one of their top priorities for the current session. Earlier this month, the House passed a fast-track bill to put Minnesota on the path to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040, and it is now awaiting a vote in the Senate.


Associated Press writer Lisa Rathke contributed to this report from Marshfield, Vermont.