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Minnesota adopts ‘clean cars’ rule, New standards receive pushback

ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) — Minnesota governor Tim Walz is taking a victory lap.

Minnesota is the latest state to adopt stricter standards for tail-pipe emissions. The ‘clean cars’ rule was finalized in the sate registrar Monday, mandating that auto dealers get more zero emissions cars onto sales lots.

“This is a win, win, win, on many front,” Walz said after touring Phillips and Temro Industries, an Eden Prairie plant manufacturing home and commercial electric vehicle charging equipment and battery warmers.

While Minnesotans most likely won’t start seeing more electric vehicles on roadways until 2025, there was a lot of campaigning from auto dealers to block the ruling.

“What this really does is it give Minnesotans more of an opportunity,” Walz said. “It asks manufacturers to provide those vehicles so they are out there.”

The governor says eventually the state will jump from offering around 14 different electric models, to more than 40.

(DFL) Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz tours Phillips and Temro Industries in Eden Prairie.

“I know with this act there will be people all over the Midwest buying these vehicles right here in Minnesota,” Chair of the Board for Fresh Energy Raj Rajan said.

While the new rule doesn’t take effect until Jan., 2025, auto dealers are worried now.

“It’s a recipe for disaster,” Minnesota Auto Dealers Association president Scott Lambert said. “We could not get the Walz administration to address this concern, much less talk to us about it.”

Because the new standard was a Minnesota Pollution and Control Agency ruling, there was no legislative discussion. Earlier this year, Senate Republicans pushed back on the ruling, resulting in an environmental bill stand off.

Republication Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka sent a statement to FOX 47, saying quote: “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.’”

Lambert says the need or the demand for electric vehicles in Minnesota, just isn’t there.

“Minnesota tops the nation on truck demand,” he said. “86 percent of the vehicles we sell are trucks. And that’s how Minnesotans work and play and manage their lives. Barely two percent of the demand is for electric vehicles. What the rule will do, the particular effect of the rule is that it’s going to make it much, much harder to get trucks in Minnesota.”

Lambert still believes the state should reject the ruling and guesses it will most likely become a campaign issue. He also says legal recourse is still on the table.

Even so, Walz is remaining sturdy in his stance, as Minnesota becomes the 15th ‘clean car’ state.

“In the 14 other states, the sky did not fall,” Walz said. “The car industry did not collapse, jobs were not lost. In fact, the opposite happened in every state.”

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Beret Leone

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