MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Seventeen states with vehicle emission standards tied to rules established in California face weighty decisions on whether to follow that state’s strictest-in-the nation new rules that require all new cars, pickups and SUVs to be electric or hydrogen powered by 2035.
Under the Clean Air Act, states must abide by the federal government’s standard vehicle emissions standards unless they at least partially opt to follow California’s stricter requirements.
Among them, Washington, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon and Vermont are expected to adopt California’s ban on new gasoline-fuelled vehicles. Colorado and Pennsylvania are among the states that probably won’t.
The legal ground is a bit murkier in Minnesota, where the state’s “Clean Cars” rule has been a political minefield and the subject of a legal fight. Meanwhile, Republicans are rebelling in Virginia.
The Minnesota Auto Dealers Association said its reading of state and federal law is that the new California rules kick in automatically in the state, and it’s making that case in court as it tries to block them.
“The technology is such that the vehicles just don’t perform that well in cold weather,” said the trade group’s president Scott Lambert. “We don’t all live in southern California.”
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) officials said the state would have to launch an entirely new rulemaking process to adopt California’s changes. And in court filings and legislative hearings, they’ve said they are not planning to do that now.
“We are not California. Minnesota has its own plan,” Governor Tim Walz said in a statement. He called Minnesota’s programme “a smart way to increase, rather than decrease, options for consumers. Our priority is to lower costs and increase choices so Minnesotans can drive whatever vehicle suits them”. Oregon regulators are taking public comments through September 7 on whether to adopt the new California standards. Colorado regulators, who adopted California’s older rules, won’t follow California’s new ones, the administration of Democratic Governor Jared Polis said.
“While the governor shares the goal of rapidly moving towards electric vehicles, he is sceptical about requiring 100 per cent of cars sold to be electric by a certain date as technology is rapidly changing,” the Colorado Energy Office said in a statement.
Regulators in Pennsylvania, which only partially adopted California’s older standards, said they won’t automatically follow its new rules. Under Democratic Governor Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania started the regulatory process last year to fully conform with California’s rules, but abandoned it.
Virginia had been on a path to adopting California’s rules under legislation that passed last year when Democrats were in full control of Virginia’s government. But Republicans who control the House of Delegates and GOP Governor Glenn Youngkin say they’ll push to unlink their state.
Minnesota’s auto dealers are trying to make their state’s current rules – and the possibility that they could tighten to incorporate California’s new restrictions – an issue for the fall elections. Control of the Legislature and governor’s office are up for grabs, and the dealers hope to persuade the 2023 Legislature to roll back the regulations unless they win in court first, Lambert said.
The MPCA, with Walz’s support, adopted California’s existing standards through administrative rulemaking last year amid a bitter fight with Republican lawmakers who were upset that the Legislature was cut out of the decision.