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Austin Chamber joins letter in opposition to ‘Clean Cars’ standard

The Austin Area Chamber of Commerce, along with 12 other border communities, has signed on to a letter sent to Gov. Tim Walz in opposition to the proposed “Clean Cars’ policy that would adopt California emission rules.

California is the only state in the union that can set its own emission standards as long as they are tougher than federal guidelines.

A judge early this month cleared the way for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s process for Clean Cars Minnesota standards, agreeing that those standards complied with state law.

The standards were proposed in 2019 by Walz and, if passed into state law, would introduce tougher vehicle emission standards in the state beginning with 2025 model year vehicles.

The push back comes from the Minnesota Auto Dealers Association (MADA), which has been arguing that Minnesota can’t be compared to California because the vehicles popular in Minnesota are not the same in California. That includes trucks that are cheaper than their electric counterparts.

But there is another problem the MADA and border communities are facing — competition from states bordering Minnesota that could reap the benefits of cheaper vehicles.

“The considerable price increase caused by the rule would fall hardest on Minnesota’s border communities,” the letter read. “Auto dealers in our communities will incur a severe competitive disadvantage to dealers just across the border who have not adopted California’s air emissions standards.”

The letter goes on to cite Minnesota Pollution Control Agency numbers that new vehicles will see an estimated price increase of $1,100 per vehicle.

However, those in support of the policy cite that Minnesotans will enjoy cleaner air and a broader selection of vehicles because the policy would dictate that dealers have more electric and hybrid vehicles on their lots for consumers to choose from.

The MADA and the communities state in the letter that it’s not about opposition to these vehicles, but firmly believe it should not be a forced issue. What may make sense in the Twin Cities does not equate to rural Minnesota, where gas vehicles are more popular.

“This is a serious issue for our communities,” the letter states. “It is NOT about support or opposition to EVs. We support EVs where there is a market and infrastructure, or where there is a federal rule, so all states are in accordance with the same standards and Minnesota is not at a disadvantage with its regional neighbors.