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Clean Air and Open Parks - Green Light for Clean Cars

by Sustainable Stillwater MN Editorial Staff

Minnesota is on track to become the 15th state in the nation to adopt stricter emission standards after an administrative law judge approved the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) Clean Cars Minnesota proposal in early May and recommended its adoption.

The state legislature granted the MPCA rule-making authority to protect air, water, and land when the agency was established in 1967. Therefore, it only makes sense they would take steps to regulate tailpipe emissions, as our transportation sector is now our number one source of climate change-causing pollution.

Unfortunately, some legislators oppose the rule — like Senator Karin Housley, who cast a vote against it — and earlier this session threatened to withhold important environment funding if the Walz Administration didn’t agree to delay the rule for two more years. As the rule stands now, it won’t go in effect until model year 2025.

It’s inconceivable to think that some legislators are willing to block important environmental funding for things like the Minnesota Zoo, the Science Museum, state parks and trails, the MPCA, and more, unless we delay implementing clean air standards designed to protect our air quality.

Meanwhile, more electric vehicles are coming to the market each year. Ford just announced their fully electric F-150 pickup truck is available. The Clean Cars rule will likely guarantee that the vehicle is available in Minnesota, as states with these standards have greater access to new electric vehicles on the market.

The Clean Cars rule will not require anyone to purchase an EV, it simply provides more choices for consumers interested in zero emission vehicles. The rule does not apply to farm equipment, construction vehicles, or other machinery or vehicles. And as charging infrastructure continues to grow, concerns over long trips in EVs will be a thing of the past.

Clean car standards are a critical step to protecting the health of people and the environment. Greenhouse gasses and particulate matter from vehicle emissions reduce overall air quality and have been attributed to serious illnesses like asthma, heart disease, and lung cancer or even early death.

We know immediate action is needed to prevent the worst impacts of climate change. Minnesota’s largest electric utilities are making great strides to reduce carbon emissions, and many have set goals to be 100% carbon-free by 2050. Their commitments mean the energy running through our wires is getting cleaner every day.

Electric vehicle owners save money over the course of ownership. As a fuel source, electricity is less expensive, and the price is more stable than gasoline. There is less maintenance costs because there are fewer moving parts in an EV. A study from the Union of Concerned Scientists found that the savings from clean cars will be reinvested into Minnesota communities, creating over 12,000 jobs.

Let’s look forward not backward. Our future depends on it.

Visit Sustainable Stillwater MN at our first Summer Tuesday booth in Lowell Park June 29-August 10.

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