17 states are considering adopting a California electric vehicle mandate

17 states are considering adopting a California electric vehicle mandate

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Seventeen states with vehicle emission standards tied to California’s rules are facing major decisions about whether to follow the nation’s strictest new state regulations that require all new cars, pickup trucks and SUVs to were electric or hydrogen. 2035.

Under the Clean Air Act, states must comply with the federal government’s standard vehicle emissions standards unless they at least partially choose to comply with California’s stricter requirements.

Among them, Washington, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon and Vermont are expected to pass California’s ban on new gasoline-powered vehicles. Colorado and Pennsylvania are among the states that probably won’t. The legal framework is a bit more nebulous in Minnesota, where the state’s “Clean Cars” rule has become a political minefield and the subject of a legal battle. Meanwhile, Republicans are rioting in Virginia.

The Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association says it believes state and federal laws are such that California’s new rules will automatically go into effect in the state, and it is suing to try to block them.

“The technology is such that cars just don’t perform as well in cold weather,” said Scott Lambert, president of the trade group. “We don’t all live in southern California.”

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency officials say the state will have to launch an entirely new rulemaking process to accept California’s changes. In both court documents and legislative hearings, they have said they do not plan to do so now.

“We are not California. Minnesota has a plan of its own,” Gov. Tim Walz said in a statement. He called the Minnesota program “a smart way to increase, not decrease, consumer opportunities. Our priority is to lower costs and expand choices so that Minnesotans can drive any vehicle that suits them.”

Until September 7, Oregon regulators are accepting public comments on whether or not California’s new standards should be adopted. Colorado regulators that have adopted the old California rules will not follow the new ones, the administration of Democratic Gov. Jared Polis said.

“While the Governor shares the goal of a rapid transition to electric vehicles, he is skeptical of the requirement that 100% of vehicles sold be electric by a certain date as technology changes rapidly,” the Colorado Energy Authority said in a statement.

Regulators in Pennsylvania, which have only partially adopted California’s old standards, have said they won’t automatically follow the new rules. Under Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf last year, Pennsylvania began a regulatory process to fully comply with California’s rules, but abandoned it.

Virginia was well on its way to adopting California rules under legislation passed last year with Democrats in full control of the Virginia government. But Republicans, who control the House of Delegates and GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin, say they will push for the disunity of their state.

Minnesota auto dealers are trying to make their state’s current rules — and the possibility of tightening them to include California’s new restrictions — an issue for the fall election. Control of the Legislature and the governor’s office is being played out, Lambert said, and dealers are hoping to convince the 2023 Legislature to scrap the rules if they don’t win in court first.

The MPCA, backed by Waltz, adopted California’s existing standards through administrative rulemaking last year amid a bitter fight with Republican lawmakers who were upset that the Legislature was left out of the decision. Legislators even unsuccessfully attempted to withhold funding from Minnesota’s environmental agencies. One of the victims was Laura Bishop, who resigned as MPCA commissioner after it became apparent she did not have enough votes in the GOP-controlled Senate to gain confirmation.

Walz and his administration framed Minnesota’s clean car rule as a fairly painless way to increase the affordability of electric vehicles and help the state meet its greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. The rule aims to increase the supply of battery-powered and hybrid vehicles starting in the 2025 model year by requiring manufacturers to comply with California standards currently in place for low and zero emission vehicles.

Lambert said the state’s auto dealers are not opposed to electric vehicles. They currently make up 2.3% of new car sales in Minnesota, and he expects consumer interest to continue to rise. But the reduced range of battery-powered cars in cold weather makes them less attractive in northern states, he said. Minnesota regulations are already threatening to burden dealers with more electric vehicles than their customers will buy, he said, and the passage of a California ban would make matters worse.

Under federal law, according to Lambert’s reading, states must either fully adopt California’s regulations or follow less stringent federal emission standards. He said they couldn’t choose from parts of each. This effectively means, he said, that Minnesota has a “registration ban” on the sale of new conventional-fuel vehicles starting with the 2035 model year.

The Lambert Association has already fought Minnesota’s existing cleanliness rules in the Minnesota Court of Appeals, and its petition called for California to make the changes it announced late last month. The key question is whether “any future amendments to the unified California rules will automatically become part of the Minnesota rules,” as the dealers claim.

Lawyers for the MPCA argue that this is not the case and are asking the court to dismiss the lawsuit. MPCA Commissioner Katrina Kessler has been making similar arguments for months, including before a skeptical state Senate committee last March.

Aaron Clemz, chief strategy officer at the Minnesota Environmental Defense Center, who will present his own case against dealers in court, admitted the legal situation is confusing. And he said it’s not clear if his group will end up urging Minnesota to follow California’s new ban.

“We haven’t done enough analysis of the California rule to know if we’re going to push for it in Minnesota,” Clemz said. He noted that other issues come into play, including incentives for electric vehicles in the Inflation Reduction Act that President Joe Biden recently signed into law and the stated intentions of some major automakers to move to all-electric vehicles.

– Associated Press reporters Jim Anderson in Denver; Gillian Flaccus in Portland, Oregon; and Mark Levy of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania contributed to the story.

About the photo: A Chevrolet Volt hybrid car is charged at a ChargePoint charging station at a garage in Los Angeles on October 17, 2018. Sixteen states across the country that have tied their vehicle emissions standards to California’s are now facing major decisions over whether to follow that state’s strictest new regulations in the country and require all new cars, pickup trucks and SUVs to be electric or electric by 2035. hydrogen. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

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