Wadena County Commissioners unanimously agreed to “make a stand” on low-emission and zero-emission vehicle rules originally set in California.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Gov. Tim Walz have been advancing the “Clean Car” rules since September 2019. The rules would require manufacturers to sell more low-emission and zero-emission vehicles as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Fourteen states have adopted the rules. The rules would begin in 2024.

“It would make Minnesota an island,” said commissioner Bill Stearns during discussion Tuesday, Feb. 16, in Wadena. “None of the states around us have passed it.” Stearns presented the opposing resolution after receiving information from the Minnesota Rural Caucus meeting and the Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association.

Read the state’s possible rules:

The MPCA can adopt, amend or remove rules on air pollution that are law. This statute was started in 1967.

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The rules would not apply to previously purchased vehicles or used vehicles. The low-emission rules also would not apply to a list of vehicles including new vehicles sold to another dealer, a vehicle for off-highway use and emergency vehicles.

Commissioner Murlyn Kreklau said the rules could set 2035 as the year for phasing out the sale of gas vehicles, which is a short 14 years, he noted. While the rules are modeled after California, the 2035 standard is not included in Minnesota's possible rules. The standard is for California, as set by Gov. Gavin Newsom in September 2020. Following the federal rules, Minnesota would introduce an increased percentage of zero or low emission vehicles for sale, while gas-powered vehicles would remain for sale.

“I think this is one of these things at this point we have to take a stand on, probably won’t do any good, but I think it is a legitimate concern,” Kreklau said.

The zero-emission vehicle rules would state “passenger cars and light-duty trucks produced by motor vehicle manufacturers and delivered for sale or lease in the state must contain at least the same applicable percentage of ZEVs required under California Code of Regulations.” The required percentage depends on the amount of cars and trucks produced by the manufacturer over three years. The percentage is a yearly amount of zero-emission or transitional emission vehicles.

The concerns of increased vehicle costs, fuel displacement, decreased transportation revenue and the weight of electric vehicle batteries were noted within the resolution. Commissioner Jon Kangas said the cost of fuel could also be impacted.

The rulemaking process is a point commissioner Sheldon Monson is not favorable of since it replaces having a bill move through the Legislature. The resolution “encourages the Walz administration to withdraw its proposed rulemaking and bring a proposal to the Legislature where a more comprehensive policy can be considered.”

Read the full Wadena County resolution:

Where is Minnesota on setting the rules?

The MPCA announced their plan to adopt the rules in December 2020. A public hearing and public comments are open prior to the adoption. The rules would begin in 2024.

The statewide public hearing is on Feb. 22 and 23 at 3 p.m. Public comments are also accepted through March 15. The hearing and comments are with an administrative law judge.

For information on submitting comments and questions, visit www.pca.state.mn.us/air/clean-cars-mn-rulemaking.

More information

Editor's note: This article was updated on Feb. 22 to clarify information that was originally reported in the earlier version.