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Governor Tim Walz Announces Clean Car Standards in Minnesota

Action will combat climate change, protect public health, increase consumer choice, create jobs, and save Minnesotans money at the pump


September 25, 2019


[ST. PAUL, MN] – Governor Tim Walz today directed the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to implement clean car standards—reducing carbon emissions and increasing the choices Minnesotans have when it comes to purchasing electric cars. The new standards will combat climate change, protect public health, increase consumer choice, create jobs, and save Minnesotans money at the pump.

“Climate change threatens the very things that make Minnesota a great place to live, from our magnificent 10,000 lakes to our farmable land and clean air,” said Governor Walz. “If Washington won’t lead on climate, Minnesota will. That is why we are taking bold action to reduce carbon emissions in a way that increases car options, protects public health, creates jobs, and saves Minnesotans money at the pump.”

The Governor today directed his Administration to implement two clean cars standards to reduce vehicle emissions in our state. The low-emission vehicle (LEV) standard requires vehicle manufacturers to deliver passenger cars, trucks and SUVs that produce lower greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants for sale in Minnesota. The zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) standard requires automobile manufacturers to deliver more vehicles with ultra-low or zero tailpipe emissions for sale in Minnesota, including electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid models. Initial estimates indicate that these two policies combined may reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by two million tons by 2030.

“Minnesota is an amazing place to live, but we must take immediate action to ensure our children can enjoy it for generations to come,” Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan said. “For too long, low-income communities, communities of color and Indigenous communities have been disproportionally impacted by air pollution. These new standards put Minnesota at the forefront of the Green Energy economy and ensure that all Minnesotans have the opportunity to breathe clean air.”

These new standards will increase consumer choice in Minnesota. Despite the fact that many Minnesotans want to drive electric vehicles, manufacturers offer less than half of their models here, and instead offer them in states that have adopted clean car standards. Implementing clean car standards in Minnesota will unleash this market in our state, give Minnesotans greater access to vehicles with better fuel economy, and increase the availability of used electric vehicles. Minnesotans get to choose the vehicle that is right for them and their families. Setting higher standards does not force anyone to give up their current vehicle or choose a vehicle that does not work for their lifestyle.

The new standards will save Minnesotans money at the pump. America’s clean car standards have saved drivers in other state’s over $88 billion and counting. The clean car standards are estimated to save Minnesotans $320 million a year in 2030 and $750 million a year by 2040. These benefits would be even higher under a high gasoline price case. Electric vehicles are cheaper to operate and maintain than gasoline vehicles. Increasing access to these vehicles will save Minnesotans thousands of dollars over the lifetime of their car and reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

The standards will also improve public health by reducing emissions and protecting Minnesotans from air pollution in every corner of the state. Building out Minnesota’s electric vehicle infrastructure will create good-paying jobs and boost the economy across the state, particularly Minnesota’s rural electric cooperatives. Already, more than 61,000 Minnesotans work in clean energy, with 40 percent of these jobs in Greater Minnesota.

“Clean Cars Minnesota builds on local climate leadership and activism by starting the process of adopting the same clean car standards that have been implemented in 14 other states, including Colorado and Maine,” said MPCA Commissioner Laura Bishop. “If Colorado and Maine can make new standards for electric vehicles work, Minnesota can definitely do it.”

The transportation sector is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in Minnesota. Last week, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) released a report recommending state-level ways to cut carbon emissions, which included the adoption of clean car standards. As part of putting together this report, the Department of Transportation gathered input from Minnesotans across the state and Minnesotans made clear they want to help move our state towards a low-carbon transportation future.

“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is critical to MnDOT’s vision of maximizing the health of people, the environment and our economy,” said MnDOT Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher. “I’m proud of the proactive efforts our team has taken to engage the public and other agencies in this discussion, and develop meaningful actions and recommendations that will help Minnesota achieve a low-carbon transportation future.”


Governor Walz is ensuring Minnesota is at the forefront of the effort to combat climate change. Earlier this week, the Governor declared September 23 – 29 to be ‘Climate Week’ in Minnesota to highlight the bold action necessary to mitigate climate change. He recently established the Governor’s Biofuels Council to advise his Administration on policies that will foster growth of Minnesota’s biofuel industry and help move our state toward a cleaner, greener transportation sector. The Council will advise the Governor on how to best expand the use of biofuels, increase the carbon efficiency of biofuels, and implement biofuels as part of Minnesota’s larger goal to reduce greenhouse gas production in the transportation sector.

Governor Walz has also put forward a set of policy proposals that will lead our state’s electricity sector to 100% clean energy by 2050. These policies will reduce Minnesota’s dependence on fossil fuels and increase the use of clean energy while ensuring reliable, affordable electricity. This effort will help ensure Minnesota has a cleaner, healthier environment and a strong clean energy economy. Already, more than 61,000 Minnesotans work in clean energy, with 40 percent of these jobs in Greater Minnesota.


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