Minnesota farmers are urging Gov. Tim Walz and state lawmakers to reject California’s new zero-emission standards that will all but prohibit sales of gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035.
The Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) recently expressed its opposition to any future adoption of California’s new standards for vehicles manufactured in 2026 and beyond, which replace the state’s current “clean car” standards.
As noted in the MCGA’s news release last week, U.S. states can adopt California’s stricter clean air standards in lieu of the federal standards if they so choose. The MCGA is concerned that the Walz administration will continue to follow in California’s footsteps and essentially ban gas-powered vehicles.
Industry groups have long warned that widespread adoption of low-emission and zero-emission vehicles would cause a spike in prices, limit consumer choice, and hamper the economy. Its proponents, however, have claimed such vehicles will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save Minnesotans money over the long haul.
In response to the new California standards, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) stated that a “zero-emission” approach “prevents the state from tapping into the immediate and affordable environmental solutions that come from replacing more gasoline with low-carbon and low-cost ethanol.”
“Ethanol is on a path to net zero emissions, and NCGA will continue to work with and urge California to use all the tools in its toolbox as it addresses climate change and cuts harmful tailpipe emissions,” the NCGA wrote in an Aug. 25 statement.
Citing recent research, the NCGA added that “higher ethanol blends, like E15, significantly reduced most criteria air pollutants compared to standard 10% ethanol blends.”
MCGA president Bryan Biegler argued in his own statement that minimizing the use of ethanol and other biofuels would hurt the Minnesota economy.
“Ethanol and biofuels are proven to reduce carbon emissions,” he said. “California’s decision is not the right direction for Minnesota, which has a significant biofuels production sector and an agricultural economy that is vital to the economic health of the state. We advocate strongly for ethanol and biofuels, and for the farmer families in Minnesota who support the biofuels industry.”
In June, Minnesota car dealers filed a lawsuit against the state’s Pollution Control Agency, arguing that Minnesota’s adoption of the California “clean car” standards is legally dubious because the former does not suffer from the same air quality issues as the latter.
“Under federal law, any state wishing to adopt California’s Emission Rules, which are adopted by the CARB, must have had a designated geographic area that fails to meet federal air quality standards (known as ‘non-attainment’ areas),” the Upper Midwest Law Center wrote in a press release about the lawsuit. “Minnesota has not had a designated non-attainment area for greenhouse gases for over 20 years.”