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Minnesota Adopts Clean Car Standards In Push For More Electric Car Availability; Gov. Walz Calls It 'A Win Across The Board'

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Minnesota is the 15th state to adopt clean car standards that push for more availability of electric and low-emission vehicles.

The new standards were finalized by the State Register Monday. Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan made the announcement, saying the clean car standards will reduce carbon emissions, create "good-paying" jobs, boost Minnesota's manufacturing industry and increase choices Minnesotans have in purchasing cars. The pair visited Phillips and Temro Industries in Eden Prairie, which manufactures clean car automotive parts.

"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," Walz said. "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."

The policy implements two clean car standards. One is a low-emission standard that requires vehicle manufacturers to provide vehicles with lower greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants for sale in Minnesota. The other is a zero-emission standard that requires these manufactures to deliver more vehicles with "ultra-low or zero tailpipe emissions" for sale in Minnesota.

"Becoming a clean cars state will make real progress toward lowering our carbon emissions, because we know that Minnesota's top source of greenhouse gas emissions is transportation," Flanagan said. "Becoming a clean cars state also means that Minnesotans will have access to purchase more clean car models right here in Minnesota, and our children will have cleaner air to breathe."

The governor's office cited a Consumer Reports survey that found a majority of Minnesotans have an interest in purchasing electric cars, trucks and SUVs.

However, the new standards have gotten plenty of pushback from the state's GOP party, with Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, calling the standards a continuation of Walz's "one-man rule."

"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,'" Gazelka said. "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."

Rep. Josh Heintzeman, R-Nisswa, also issued a statement, saying the new standards will raise the cost of all cars in the state.

"As inflation surges across the country thanks to Democrat policies, Gov. Walz is celebrating an expensive new California mandate that will raise the price of all cars by $1,000 or more," Heintzeman said. "Simple economics dictates that if consumers want electric vehicles, dealers will stock them. Instead of letting the market work, Gov. Walz is making cars more expensive for all Minnesotans by bringing California mandates here to Minnesota."

The Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association has also come out in opposition to the new standards, saying the Minnesota Legislature "should be making decisions about Minnesota's emissions standards, not California."

DFL leaders, including the governor, contend that the new standards will increase consumer choice in the state and help drivers save money because electric vehicles are cheaper to operate and maintain than their gasoline counterparts.

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