What are the clean car standards?
The clean car standards refer to two rules that individual states have adopted: the Low-Emission Vehicle standard and the Zero-Emission Vehicle standard.
The Low-Emission Vehicle (LEV) standard requires manufacturers to deliver vehicles to the Minnesota market that produce lower greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants. The LEV standard is tailored to the size of the vehicle, so SUVs and pickup trucks meet a different, less stringent standard than passenger cars. Created in 2012, the LEV standard has been adopted by fourteen states and the District of Columbia.
The Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) standard requires manufacturers to deliver more vehicles with ultra-low or zero tailpipe emissions for sale in Minnesota, increasing each year. In January 2019, there were approximately 43 electric vehicle models available in the U.S., but only 19 of those were available in Minnesota. The ZEV standard will mean Minnesotans will have more options for electric vehicles that fit their budget and lifestyle.
Minnesota needs to meet its goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050. However, we missed our target in 2015 and are not on track to meet the other goals. As transportation is now the biggest source of GHG emissions in Minnesota, it’s also our greatest opportunity to lower them. Minnesota also has set a goal for 20 percent of all passenger vehicles in the state to be electric by 2030. Bold goals require bold action.
Meanwhile, in 2018 the federal government proposed a new rule that would roll back the current federal fuel economy and GHG emissions standards for passenger vehicles, effectively freezing standards from model year 2020 through model year 2026. Instead of building on the progress the auto industry has made over the last few decades, these proposed changes would set us back. If the federal standards are frozen, Minnesota will have a much harder time meeting our statewide goals.
Clean Cars Minnesota is also the result of extensive public engagement by MnDOT, MPCA, and others about the future of transportation in Minnesota. Minnesotans have been asking for more meaningful ways to address climate change, and “regulations for car manufacturers to offer more fuel-efficient vehicles in MN” was one of the most supported policies in a recent survey by MnDOT.
Minnesotans deserve more and better options for cleaner, more efficient vehicles. Adopting clean car standards now means that no matter what happens on a federal level, Minnesota will continue moving in the right direction.
- Read more about Minnesota going electric: Accelerating Electric Vehicle Adoption: A Vision for Minnesota
- Read more about MnDOT’s research and recommended actions: Pathways to Decarbonizing Transportation in Minnesota
Which states have already adopted clean car standards?
To date, 14 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the LEV standard, and 11 states have adopted both the LEV and ZEV standards. Colorado is the most recent state to adopt both standards.
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What’s the process for adopting clean car standards?
On September 25, 2019, Governor Tim Walz asked MPCA to take action so that Minnesotans will avoid the ramifications of any changes to federal standards. To reduce GHG emissions from transportation, protect Minnesotans, and ensure continued access to better, more efficient vehicles, Governor Walz proposed adopting both of the clean car standards.
MPCA is the state agency with authority to adopt clean car standards through a formal rulemaking process. MPCA rulemaking will begin in October 2019 and will include extensive opportunities for Minnesotans to share their views on these new proposed standards.
What does “rulemaking” mean?
Laws are written and passed by the Legislature. Rulemaking is a different process that state agencies can use to adopt regulations specific to our programs. In 1967, the Legislature gave MPCA authority to create, change, and enforce rules.
As part of the rulemaking process, MPCA will hold public listening sessions around the state later this fall. MPCA must also submit a detailed document called the Statement of Need and Reasonableness, or SONAR. Proposed changes to state rules are ultimately determined by an Administrative Law Judge. To receive updates throughout the rulemaking process, please sign up for our email list.
Does Minnesota have any options or flexibility when adopting clean car standards?
For the most part, states must adopt the clean car standards verbatim. Some flexibility is allowed for initial establishment of the Zero-Emission Vehicle crediting system. For example, the ZEV standard allows for “early action” credits to vehicle manufacturers who accelerate ZEV sales in Minnesota before the initial implementation date of the rule.
When would the clean car standards go into effect?
The federal Clean Air Act requires two full model years between finalization and enforcement of the rule. If MPCA adopts the LEV and ZEV standards before the end of 2020, Minnesotans will be able to enjoy the benefits of the standards at the start of 2023 for the model year 2024.
Do we have a say? How can I give my input?
Whenever the state rules are changed, you have the opportunity to get involved. This begins with the Request for Comment (RFC), when MPCA will publish information on the proposed rule and a set of questions in the State Register. During the RFC period, anyone can submit written comments to the agency to consider while writing the rule. MPCA will hold public listening sessions around the state later this fall.