Lawsuit challenges Walz’s adoption of clean car rules

Scott Lambert of the Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association claimed Gov. Tim Walz and his administration are putting Minnesota's economy in danger by allowing the rule to stand.

A Tesla charging station in upstate New York. (J Dean/Unsplash)

Minnesota car dealers are suing a state agency over its adoption of a rule requiring automakers to supply the market with more low- and zero-emission vehicles.

On behalf of the Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association (MADA), the Upper Midwest Law Center (UMLC) has filed a lawsuit against the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) with the state’s court of appeals.

MADA is seeking a legal invalidation of the so-called “clean car” rule. The lawsuit argues the MPCA is effectively outsourcing its authority on the issue to the California Air Resources Board, which regulates the state’s own vehicle emissions.

The lawsuit also argues that the state of Minnesota does not suffer from the same air quality issues as California and is in full compliance with the emission standards set forth by the U.S. government’s Clean Air Act.

“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),” reads a UMLC press release about the lawsuit. “Minnesota has not had a designated non-attainment area for greenhouse gases for over 20 years.”

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency adopted the California-modeled clean car rule in July 2021. The state agency claims it will help Minnesotans save money in the long run and “meet its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050.”

However, several industry groups, including MADA and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, announced in March their support for legislation that would repeal the MPCA rule.

In a Monday statement, MADA president Scott Lambert claimed Gov. Tim Walz and his administration are putting Minnesota’s economy in danger by allowing the rule to stand.

“The Walz Administration has put Minnesota on a ruinous economic path that will mandate an oversupply of electric vehicles that will far outpace consumer demand and culminate in a complete ban on the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2034,” he said.

“Dealers are all in for the adoption of EVs and are making sizeable investments in their businesses to get ready for an expected increase in demand, but they’re making plans based on consumer appetite, not what California dictates,” Lambert added.

Minnesota Democrats are also attempting to pass a clean fuel bill that they claim would help the MPCA achieve its greenhouse gas emission goals, but opponents of the bill argue it would raise the cost of gas at a time when gas prices nationwide are through the roof and show no signs of abating.