Minnesota Opinion: Minnesota now a 'clean-car' state: 4 takes

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Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday, July 27, 2021, spoke to reporters at the Capitol before ceremonially signing a bill that will expand Minnesota's Conservation Improvement Program. (Dana Ferguson / Forum News Service)
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On Monday, with a simple notice in the state register, Minnesota became the first state in the Midwest and the 15th in the nation to embrace "clean car" standards, paving the way for manufacturers to make more electric and hybrid vehicles available for sale here.

As Forum News Service reported, the formal adoption came after a years-long fight that resulted in the ousting of a state commissioner and that threatened to kibosh the state budget deal this past legislative session. Based on rules in California, the standard won't take effect in Minnesota until January 2024. The coming change should encourage car dealers to start preparing now, however, for more electric and hybrid options and for private businesses to start rolling out more charging stations and related infrastructure.

Here are four views on this week’s big news, including the News Tribune’s from mid-session:

‘The sky did not fall’


"Minnesotans certainly know that old adage, 'You need to skate where the puck is going to be.' The puck is going to be in (electric vehicles. … The question is what states are going to be ready when that puck arrives, and Minnesota is now going to be the 15th state. …

"In the 14 other states, the sky did not fall, the car industry did not collapse, jobs were not lost; in fact, just the opposite happened. ...

“Today, as Minnesota becomes a clean cars state, we’re creating jobs across every corner of the state, we’re giving Minnesotans more choices at their local car dealer, we’re saving Minnesotans money, and we’re reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting our environment for future generations. These clean cars standards are a win across the board. With cleaner air, more car options, economic growth, and less money spent on foreign oil, every Minnesotan will benefit.”

— Gov. Tim Walz at a celebratory gathering Monday at a thermal solution manufacturing company in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, as quoted by his office and Forum News Service

‘The price of all new cars will go up’

“The administration has mischaracterized the implications of this rule and misled the citizens of Minnesota on its real effects. …

“Minnesota does not have an air-quality problem like California’s. The California Rule will limit the choices of vehicles Minnesotans demand, and the price of all new cars will go up. …


“The California Rule puts California bureaucrats in charge of Minnesota industry, and they will impose an artificial supply mandate on the Minnesota marketplace and put Minnesota on track for an outright ban on the sale of combustible engine vehicles. …

“Incentives and infrastructure are the proven way to get more electric vehicles on the road. … But the governor has done nothing regarding infrastructure and the California Rule is a pure supply mandate that does not address how to increase demand.”

— Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association ( President Scott Lambert, in a statement Monday

‘Minnesotans mustn’t be left behind’

“Yes, we all need to do our part to counter climate change. But there's a far more practical reason for Minnesotans to embrace the clean-car standard. ...

“It's all about not being left behind.

“Car manufacturers keep announcing plans to increase the development and production of electric vehicles, hybrids, and low-emission cars and trucks, including more four-wheel drive options and trucks and SUVs as powerful as ones that run on gas. And these new models will be made available for sale first in states that have adopted the clean-car standard. …


“The standard was originally crafted in California, which galls some Minnesotans. What's right on the West Coast may not be right here. True enough, but under the law, the standard is Minnesota's only alternative to federal rules. If California changes the standard in the years to come, Minnesota would go through this same rulemaking public process with the courts as it is now. Any changes wouldn't just automatically be applied here.

“To clear up misperceptions: Minnesota's elected Legislature authorized the (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency) to consider the standard through the rulemaking process that (was) followed. The standard applies to car manufacturers, not motorists. And it covers passenger vehicles alone, not semis, farm equipment, off-road vehicles, motorcycles, or snowmobiles. …

“The concerns of car sellers and others can't be discounted. They demand to be considered. … (But) car makers already are shifting production to meet buyers' greener demands and … other states and nations are (already) taking action. Minnesotans mustn't be left behind.”

— Duluth News Tribune editorial, Feb. 22

‘No day to celebrate’

“Today is no day to celebrate. Instead of focusing on keeping Minnesotans safe and protecting us, Governor Walz is implementing policies for his pet projects from his ultra-liberal buddies in other states. This failure of a governor is ignoring the needs of the citizens of Minnesota by copying left-wing policies from a state like California. We aren’t California. As inflation in Minnesota spirals out of control, Governor Walz’s mandate will increase the cost of buying a car by $1,000 or more.”

— Kevin Poindexter, president of the Foundation for Minnesota’s Future (, in a statement Monday

‘(This) is just ‘Walz’s Minnesota’’

“I’m not surprised Governor Walz continues to issue mandates after the last 18 months. His emergency powers may be over, but his ego trip is not, and it looks like ‘One Minnesota’ is just ‘Walz’s Minnesota.’ … Imposing California car standards on drivers as we recover from the pandemic is not the right move for Minnesotans. Cleaner cars and electric vehicles are coming because innovation keeps us moving forward.

"Forcing electric vehicles onto car lots before consumers are demanding them will mean everyone pays more for their car: gas, electric, or hybrid.”

— Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, as quoted this week by WCCO-TV and Forum News Service

This is a commentary written by the Duluth News Tribune Opinion Board.

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