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. At this stage, we do not have a formal draft of the rule ready to propose; we want your feedback to inform us as we develop the rule.

MPCA welcomes comments on anything related to this rule. Simply telling us whether or not you think we should adopt these standards and why are valid and helpful comments for us. 

Supplemental resources

PDF icon 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 so that people may provide comments. Topics where input is specifically requested are highlighted, but comments are welcomed on any or all of the rule concepts. 

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. Commenters may find it useful to refer to Colorado’s rule and analysis in their comments, and several of the questions in our concepts document relate to Colorado’s materials.

Share your input

Thank you for your interest in Clean Cars Minnesota and submitting comments for MPCA’s consideration as part of the current Request for Comments (RFC). Public comment is open from October 7, 2019, until 4:30 p.m. on December 6, 2019.

During the open comment period, interested people or groups may submit comments or information on these possible rules in writing to the Office of Administrative Hearings Rulemaking e-Comments webpage (directions below) or by other means identified in the public notice.

We have heard your frustration, and we understand that submitting comments through the e-Comments webpage can create some challenges.

If you’re struggling with the e-Comments webpage, we have good news: it’s not the only way to submit your comments to the OAH. During the open comment period you can also submit your written comments for consideration by sending them via e-mail or U.S. Mail to:

OAH Legal Assistant Sheena Denny
PO Box 64620
St. Paul, MN  55164-0620

If you are an organization, professional association, private company, or other entity that would like to submit multiple comments or signature petitions, you can combine them into one file and submit online using the e-Comments page.

How to submit a comment online

  1. Go to the Office of Administrative Hearings e-Comments discussions page:
  2. At the bottom of this page; Topic: Submit a comment
    • Click on “Sign Up” to create an account—you must register using a valid email address in order to submit comments
    • You will then receive a validation email to activate your account
  3. Submit/upload your comments
    • You can type individual comments directly into the form on the page OR upload a comment letter in a Microsoft Word or PDF file
    • Double check that you see your submittal

Public meetings

MPCA has 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 (5 p.m.): Fergus Falls - Otter Tail County Government Services Center, 500 W Fir Ave, Fergus Falls, MN, 56537
  • October 30 (5 p.m.): Burnsville - Burnsville City Hall Council Chambers, 100 Civic Center Pkwy, Burnsville, MN 55337
  • November 6 (5 p.m.): Marshall - Marshall Lyon County Library, 201 C St, Marshall, MN 56258
  • November 12 (5 p.m.): Virginia - Miner’s Memorial Building South Room, 821 S 9th Ave W, Virginia, MN 55792
  • November 14 (5 p.m.): Minneapolis - Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC), 2001 Plymouth Ave N, Minneapolis, MN 55411
  • November 19 (5 p.m.): Mankato - Blue Earth County Library, 100 E Main St, Mankato, MN 56001

Webinar: November 4 (Noon). MPCA hosted a webinar to share information and gather input. The content of the webinar will be the same as the public meetings.

Technical meetings. MPCA also will host a series of technical meetings to assist in developing the rule and analysis.

Sign up to receive email notifications of rulemaking developments or scheduled meetings.


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.

Sign up to receive email notifications of rulemaking developments or scheduled meetings.


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