The Land of 10,000 Lakes could be the next state to follow California’s strict emissions rules for cars and trucks. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has begun accepting comments on final rules to adopt California Air Resources Board (CARB) rules that set stricter-than-federal standards on vehicle emissions and mandate higher percentages of zero-emissions vehicles such as electric vehicles (EVs).

“If Washington won’t lead on climate, Minnesota will,” Gov. Tim Walz said in 2019 when the state announced plans to adopt California standards. Fierce opposition from Republican lawmakers slowed Walz’ plans, but the initiative has inched forward, leading to the pollution agency’s recent call for comments.

California, 12 other states, and the District of Columbia follow CARB rules, effectively creating two U.S. fuel economy and emissions standards. Automakers and federal regulators have long sought to unify the rules but political changes have interfered. Former President Barack Obama’s 54.5mpg fuel economy standards would have unified federal and California rules, but former President Donald Trump overruled those standards before they were enacted. Trump’s administration planned to set new, much easier economy rules. To standardize rules with California, the plan was to cancel a waiver the state received from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that allowed it to set tougher standards. Like Obama, Trump ran out of time to lock in his plans as several states sued to block new regulations from becoming official. President Joe Biden says he will reinstitute Obama-era policies, but those rules still must be written and go through a lengthy review process.

That leaves CARB free to enact rules for itself and the states that follow its mandates, and that list continues to grow. In addition to Minnesota, New Mexico is in the process of adopting California rules, so Minnesota could become the 15th state following stricter mandates and New Mexico No. 16. https://www.pca.state.mn.us

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