General

MN car dealers are suing MPCA for clean car rule aimed at reducing CO2

MN car dealers are suing MPCA for clean car rule aimed at reducing CO2

The Minnesota Auto Dealers Association filed a lawsuit against the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency on Wednesday in an attempt to block a “clean car” rule that goes into effect in 2024.

The organization argued in a petition filed with the Minnesota Court of Appeals that the agency exceeded its legal jurisdiction in implementing the rule that would require automakers to make more electric and hybrid vehicles available in Minnesota.

State law prohibits agencies from delegating powers to other entities, the group argued, and in this case, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency transferred its authority to the California Air Resources Board when it adopted that state’s standard. Minnesota is also prohibited from applying the rule under federal clean air standards, the association said.

Since the clean-car standards were introduced in 2019, pollution control officials said the plan would help Minnesota reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the state’s main source: transportation. About 25% of the heat-trapping gases causing global warming and more extreme weather events in the US come from cars and light trucks. And they argued it could help bring the state back into line with the 2007 goals set out in the statutes.

From its inception, the Minnesota Auto Dealers Association has been vocally opposed to the norm and has sought to destroy it through the rule-making process, in the legislature and in the courts. A federal judge dismissed a similar lawsuit filed by the association last year.

Auto dealers and Republican lawmakers have argued that consumer demand should drive the market and dealers should not carry vehicles that may not be in high demand in their area.

“Dealers are all committed to adopting electric vehicles and making significant investments in their businesses to prepare for an expected surge in demand, but they are making plans based on consumer appetites, not what California dictates said association president Scott Lambert. †

The MPCA held state hearings on the proposal, and an administrative judge approved it last year. But the change has sparked years of tense debates in the Capitol about the state’s role in moving the industry toward more fuel-efficient options.

Agency spokesman Darin Broton said on Thursday that the MPCA adhered to the rule and believed the court would allow it to remain in place.

“As the agency reviews this new legal action, it’s important to recognize that gas is $4.64 a gallon and that Minnesota residents want more choices that are better for their wallets and the environment,” Broton said. “The car dealers filed a similar lawsuit last year and it was dismissed. We are confident that the clean car standards developed by authority granted by the legislature and approved by a judge will hold.”

Earlier this year, the Minnesota Senate passed a bill that would break the clean-car standard and prevent the MPCA from making similar demands. The proposal did not receive support in the DFL-led House of Representatives.

After the proposal languished in the legislature, the car dealers said they should tackle the matter themselves and take the matter to court.