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Regarding pollution control agency’s clean cars rule making

Dear Governor Walz:

The undersigned community stakeholders would like to express our concerns regarding the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s proposed Clean Cars Minnesota rulemaking (OAH docket number 71-9003-36416). This proposed rule would unfairly mandate vehicle manufacturers to distribute electric vehicles (EV) into the Minnesota market and eventually adopt the Low- Emission Vehicles (LEV) and Zero-Emission Vehicles (ZEV) standards established by the California Air Resources Board. This counterproductive rule would harm Minnesota’s farmers, automakers and dealers, consumers, energy suppliers, among other constituencies. At minimum, we strongly urge you to delay the adoption of the Clean Car Minnesota Rule so there can be more careful consideration among Minnesota residents and lawmakers.

Introduced last December and set to go into effect in 2024, the rule would require an ever-growing percentage of EVs, forcing vehicle retailers to stock an arbitrary number of non-combustion vehicles whether consumers want them or not. From raising the cost of vehicles for families and businesses, limiting the variety of vehicles available for purchase by Minnesota consumers, putting farmers and rural populations at a disadvantage, and instituting by regulation what should be decided by the state’s diverse elected lawmakers, this rule falls short of sound policy, common sense, and democratic principles.

Beyond the issues of what it could do, there are already serious market barriers to making such a government-mandated transition to EVs, especially in our consumer-driven economy. EVs have never exceeded 1.5 percent of all vehicle sales in the state in any year and Minnesota dealers currently sell only about 2,000 EVs a year. Moreover, a poll conducted by the Minnesota Auto Dealers Association (MADA) showed only 5 percent of Minnesotans say they are very likely to consider an electric vehicle when they make their next purchase, citing concerns about higher cost, performance in the cold and a lack of charging stations. Families and businesses should have the freedom to choose the technologies that work best for them.

Such a mandate would also hit our pocketbooks hard. Battery-powered EVs are not cheap, costing on average $13,000 more than cars with traditional internal-combustion engines. Evidence also shows that Minnesotans can expect to pay approximately $1,139 more per vehicle if the rule passes. Added to those costs is the issue of possible tax increases as EV drivers will pay less into the state’s Highway User Tax Distribution Fund (HUTD) and because there is not a federal road tax for EVs, the state will miss out on that income too. Rural Minnesota could be particularly hard hit along with the state’s agricultural sector. Data from the Agricultural Retailers Association shows that U.S. net farm income could decrease up to $27 billion if bans on combustion-powered vehicles like California’s were to be established nationwide. If states adopt California’s path, demand for corn could fall by up to 2 billion bushels, while soybean consumption could decrease by up to 470 million bushels. And as the nation’s fourth largest ethanol producer, Minnesota has much to lose from reduced fuel use. Ethanol supports 19,000 full time jobs in the state and accounts for more than $2.3 billion in state Gross Domestic Product annually.

Minnesota has better options than a mandate tied to California rulemaking. At a minimum, we should acknowledge that the California Air Resource Board (CARB) has no accountability to Minnesota voters, meaning that Minnesota lawmakers would have no say in the future of this misguided rule. Instead of ceding control to California, state leaders should work with Minnesota stakeholders to find market-oriented approaches that encourage competition in the vehicle marketplace, without the government dictating consumer behavior.

Whatever the solution, we believe strongly that lawmakers should be involved. By going through the administrative rule making process, this administration is circumventing the legislature’s input and the right of Minnesotans to have their voices heard. Neither the mandate nor the method through which your administration is implementing this rule into law are in the best interest of Minnesotans.

Brad Gruhot, president, Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce; Brad Meier, president/CEO, Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism; Bud Stone, president, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce; Christie Ransom, president & CEO, Winona Area Chamber of Commerce; Deb Whalen, past president, Minnesota Agri-Women; Elaine Hansen, president, Austin Area Chamber of Commerce; Gus Ortis, Owner-Operator of Executive Transportation, 2021 President of Minnesota Chauffeured Transportation Association; Isaac Orr, policy fellow, Center of the American Experiment; James Jirava, County Delegate, Minnesota Soybean and Corn Growers for Becker/Mahnomen Counties; Jennifer Harmening, president, Burnsville Chamber of Commerce; John Hausladen, President & CEO, Minnesota Trucking Association; Karolyn Zurn, past president, Minnesota Agri-Women; Ken Warner, president and CEO, Willmar Lakes Area Chamber; Lance Klatt, executive director, Minnesota Service Station & Convenience Store Association; Lawrence Sukalski, corn and soybean farmer in Martin County,; Maureen Scallen Failor, President, Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce; Rick Thielen, president of the Minnesota Charter Bus Operators Association; Ronny Reitmeier, human resources manager / Crookston Chamber of Commerce Board Member; Shannon Full, president, Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber; Shari Wilson, IOM, executive director, White Bear Area Chamber of Commerce; Tim Gross, executive director, Minnesota Petroleum Marketers Association; Tony Kwilas, director of Environmental Policy and John Reynolds Director of Energy Policy, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce; Wanda Patsche, corn, soybean and hog farmer, and the editor of MNFarmLiving.com

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