Conservative group calls out Senate GOP for caving on California car mandates

The new standards would increase costs for consumers by $2,000 to $2,500 per vehicle.

Background: Minnesota Senate Media/Facebook. Left: Sen. Paul Gazelka/Minnesota Senate.

The Center of the American Experiment (CAE) expressed its disappointment in the Senate GOP for caving on California clean car mandates during the special session.

The California car mandates would be enacted by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and would create a new standard for low-emission vehicle (LEV) and zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) production.

According to CAE, once the clean-cars rule is adopted later this year, “it will be very difficult if not impossible to undo, even with a change in administrations.”

“It is understandable that political realities may have influenced the decision of conservative lawmakers to trade their opposition on the California car mandates for something else they wanted,” the conservative think tank said. “However, it is bitterly disappointing that leadership did not appear to understand exactly how the rule-making process works when they decided to abandon their goal of delaying the rules for two years.”

The new standards would increase costs for consumers by $2,000 to $2,500 per vehicle, and auto dealers would be forced to stock cars that have less demand and are less profitable. Additionally, CAE found that these mandates would disproportionately affect low-income families as well as rural and minority communities.

Local chambers of commerce have stepped forward to sign a letter urging the governor to stop pushing for the California car mandates here in Minnesota, citing concerns over border cities and towns that could lose business to neighboring states with cheaper vehicles.

Just last Monday, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka told reporters he isn’t a fan of the clean-cars rule the Walz administration is pushing, but on Tuesday he “recognize[d] that we have to close this deal up” and decided to drop the issue in budget negotiations.

The clean-car standards originated in California, but states such as Washington and Massachusetts quickly followed suit. However, analysis shows that these mandates have zero impact on pollution. CAE said that it doesn’t believe “the cost of these rules can be scientifically justified on a cost-benefit analysis on the basis of reductions in criteria air pollutants.”

Furthermore, while Gov. Tim Walz has been pushing the California mandates on Minnesotans, he’s been driving a 1979 International Harvester Scout that gets 11.4 miles to the gallon and is not classified as a LEV or ZEV.


Megan Olson
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Megan Olson is a 2020 graduate of the University of Minnesota with degrees in political science and history. She works in public affairs in addition to serving on the Legislative Advisory Council for School District 196. She is also on the school board for FIT academy, a charter school in Apple Valley.