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One Year Anniversary of Walz Clean Car Pledge

Updated: Oct 6, 2020

September 25, 2020

Contact: Jeremy Drucker (612) 670-9650

Today marks the one year anniversary of Governor Walz pledge to join fourteen other states in adopting clean car standards

St. Paul, MN-- Today marks the one year anniversary of Governor Walz’s pledge to join fourteen other states and the District of Columbia in adopting clean car standards. On September 25, 2019 Governor Walz stood with electric utilities, consumer advocates, and climate organizations and announced that “We can’t count on Washington to lead, so Minnesota needs to,” when it comes to climate change. In November and December of last year the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency held an initial public comment period seeking ideas on the new rule. One year later the draft rule has yet to be released.

“Over the past year, Clean Cars Minnesota inspired thousands of Minnesotans from all corners of the state to speak up in support of clean car standards at the legislature, in public meetings, and by submitting official comments online,” said Michael Noble, Executive Director of Fresh Energy. “I’m thankful for everyone who engaged in the feedback process and urge all parties to ensure that Clean Cars Minnesota is finalized as soon as possible.”

Clean car standards will address the number one cause of climate pollution, emissions from cars, trucks and other vehicles. Numerous studies have shown they will result in more consumer choice, consumer savings, cleaner air, and a healthier population.

“A lot has changed since the crisp fall day one year ago when state agency leaders, reporters, utilities, and excited electric vehicle owners gathered for the Governor’s Clean Cars Minnesota announcement,” said Paul Austin, Executive Director of Conservation Minnesota. “Today, as we continue to face the current health crisis, the need to protect air quality for the most vulnerable communities among us is more apparent than ever before. We must remain committed to addressing Minnesota’s number one source of climate change-causing pollution by moving forward with the Clean Cars Minnesota rulemaking process.”

“Storms, heat, smoke and harmful air quality days...Minnesota’s climate is changing at an alarming rate. We need to take swift action now, addressing the #1 cause of climate pollution,” said Joshua Houdek, Senior Program Manager at Sierra Club North Star Chapter. “Minnesotans want cleaner cars and trucks, but can’t find them at their dealership.”

Since Governor Walz’s press conference a year ago the private sector has made huge strides in driving increased electrification of the transportation sector. Xcel Energy announced last month a new initiative to supercharge electric vehicle adoption by proposing $150M in auto rebates, including $2,500 per electric automobile or light truck. Xcel’s goal is to have 20% of vehicles on the road be electric by 2030. Earlier this year Amazon ordered 100,000 custom delivery vehicles from electric vehicle maker Rivian to help reach its goal of being carbon neutral by 2040. On Monday Walmart announced it also aims to reduce its global emissions to zero by 2040, in part by switching to an all-electric vehicle fleet.

Alli Gold Roberts, Director of State Policy for the business sustainability non-profit Ceres said, "Minnesota companies are among the supporters of Clean Cars Standards because more efficient vehicles save businesses, employees and customers money on fuel and maintenance costs. Minnesota Clean Cars will enable more businesses to invest in electric vehicles, expand consumer choice, and help companies meet their sustainability goals."

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. Automakers – including Ford and GM – have announced plans for dozens of new electric models in the next five years, including 20 electric SUVs and crossover vehicles, well suited to Minnesotans’ lifestyle.

“In Minnesota, transportation is the biggest source of emissions towards the climate crisis and one of the biggest sources of air pollution. Last year Governor Walz took a first step towards addressing this by beginning the rulemaking process for Clean Car Standards in Minnesota,” said Madi Johnson, Clean Transportation Organizer with MN 350. “This year we'd like to take the next critical steps in Minnesota becoming a leader in addressing the climate crisis. This rule will become an essential springboard after which we can improve electric vehicle access across our states, including growing out incentives and rebates so that Minnesotans of any income and those most impacted by air pollution have equal access to clean cars.”

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, like SUVs, pickup trucks, and minivans. Adopting the clean car program would help ensure Minnesotans can find these kinds of electric vehicles in the coming years.

“A recent report from the American Lung Association affirms that electrification of the transportation sector will save lives and will yield significant reductions in air pollution,” said Dr. Mike Menzel of Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate. “In the midst of a massive pandemic, some of the groups at highest risk for severe effects from the coronavirus are those who are most at risk from exposure to air pollution. In Minnesota we have the opportunity to save lives and health care costs by implementing clean car standards to clean our air and protect our health.”

Clean car standards are critical for protecting the health of all Minnesotans. In August 2019, MPCA and the Minnesota Department of Health released the Life and Breath report that showed that air pollution contributed to roughly 2,000-4,000 deaths in Minnesota in 2013 as well as hundreds of increased hospital visits.

To learn more about clean car standards click here.

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