Rulemaking: Clean Cars Minnesota

Amendments adopting Low-Emission Vehicle and Zero-Emission Vehicle air pollution standards (Revisor’s ID R-4626)


Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is considering adopting rules that require vehicle manufacturers to deliver vehicles to the Minnesota market that produce lower emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) and other air pollutants.

Under the federal Clean Air Act (CAA), the responsibility to regulate emissions from vehicles is given to the federal government. However, section 209 of the CAA allows the state of California to develop its own, more stringent vehicle emissions standards. Section 177 of the CAA allows other states to adopt California’s standards. To adopt more stringent standards, states must adopt California’s standards exactly and avoid creating any requirements different from those established by California.

The Clean Cars Minnesota rulemaking has two parts: the Low-Emission Vehicle (LEV) standard and the Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) standard.

  • The LEV standard would require manufacturers to deliver vehicles for sale in Minnesota that meet the more stringent GHG and other air pollutant emissions standards established by California. The LEV standard is a tailpipe emissions standard for auto manufacturers; it does not establish any requirements directly for vehicle owners and does not require a personal vehicle inspection program.
  • The ZEV standard would require manufacturers to deliver for sale in Minnesota a certain number of vehicles with ultra-low or zero tailpipe emissions each year, including battery electric vehicles (EVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and hydrogen-fueled vehicles. The ZEV standard would result in additional electric vehicles available to consumers in Minnesota, but does not require any individual to purchase an electric vehicle.

MPCA may adopt the LEV standard, the ZEV standard, both, or neither. Since the CAA requires states that would like to adopt California’s standards to do so verbatim, however, Minnesota has no flexibility within the rules to adopt Minnesota-specific changes. The one area where Minnesota would have some limited flexibility is in how the state establishes initial ZEV credit banks for manufacturers.

The purpose of the Clean Cars Minnesota rulemaking is to reduce emissions from passenger vehicles: GHG emissions as well as other harmful air pollutants including fine particles and the pollutants that form ground-level ozone. The Next Generation Energy Act set targets for statewide GHG emissions reductions of 15% by 2015, 30% by 2025, and 80% by 2050 (from 2005 levels). Minnesota did not hit the 2015 target and is not on pace to meet future goals. Since transportation is now the largest source of GHG emissions in Minnesota, we must focus on achieving reductions in this sector to achieve our goals.

In addition, reducing vehicle emissions of other harmful air pollutants is critical for protecting the health of all Minnesotans. In August 2019, MPCA and the Minnesota Department of Health released the Life and Breath report that showed that fine particles and ground-level ozone contributed to roughly 2,000-4,000 deaths in Minnesota in 2013 as well as hundreds of increased hospital visits. MPCA research also shows that some communities in Minnesota are disproportionately exposed to tailpipe pollution from vehicles, particularly communities of color and lower-income communities. Adopting this rule would help reduce exposures for vulnerable and overburdened communities. Reducing air pollution from vehicles is critical for addressing environmental justice concerns.

Rulemaking documents

Request for Comments

The Request for Comments is MPCA’s legal notice of its intent to begin rulemaking. This is the first of several opportunities for public comment and input on this rulemaking. The Request for Comments period closed on December 6, 2019. Review all written comments submitted to the agency:

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Supplemental resources

PDF icon Clean Cars Minnesota: Supplement to the Request for Comments (aq-rule4-10b)

Detailed overview of the concepts MPCA is considering for the Clean Cars Minnesota rulemaking. This document will help readers understand the potential rules being considered and their rationale.

Colorado is the most recent state to have adopted these standards. MPCA is considering using Colorado’s rule language and regulatory analysis as a model from which to develop our own. Several of the questions in our Supplement document refer to Colorado’s materials.

Public meetings

MPCA hosted a series of two-hour public meetings around the state to share information on the Clean Cars Minnesota rulemaking and gather input from Minnesotans.

  • October 29: Fergus Falls
  • October 30: Burnsville
  • November 6: Marshall
  • November 12: Virginia
  • November 14: Minneapolis
  • November 19: Mankato

Webinar: November 4. MPCA hosted a webinar to share information and gather input. The content of the webinar was the same as the public meetings.

Technical meetings. MPCA is hosting a series of technical meetings to assist in developing the rule and analysis.

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MPCA’s goal is to finalize the Clean Cars Minnesota rule by the end of December 2020. There will be lots of opportunities for Minnesotans to weigh in and provide input during this process. If MPCA proceeds with this rulemaking, we plan to publish a Notice to Adopt New Rules that will include draft rule language in late winter/early spring 2020. Minnesotans will then have another opportunity to tell us what they think.

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Questions about technical or policy aspects of the rule: Amanda Jarrett Smith, or 651-757-2486

Questions about the rule process or schedule: Katie Izzo, or 651-757-2595