Following discussion at two of their February meetings, they passed a resolution rejecting the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) proposed “Clean Cars Minnesota Rule.”
The MPCA is considering adopting state rules that would limit the amount of greenhouse gases new cars, SUVs and pickup trucks can emit and require manufacturers to deliver more battery-powered and hybrid models in the state.
Older models or used vehicles wouldn’t be subject to the new standard. Fourteen other states, including California, have adopted similar requirements.
The MPCA estimates the proposed rule is likely to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from both vehicle tailpipes and upstream electricity and fuel production by approximately 8.4 million tons over the first 10 years.
The MPCA also states that since electric vehicles (EVs) are “generally cheaper to own and operate over the life of the car, due in large part to fuel and maintenance savings” and the increased purchase cost of an EV “may be mostly or entirely offset by fuel savings, the proposed rule may also produce consumer savings in addition to health and climate benefits.”
The MPCA announced their plan to adopt the rules in December 2020. Public comments are being accepted through March 15. The hearing and comments are with an administrative law judge. For information on submitting comments and questions, visit www.pca.state.mn.us/air/clean-cars-mn-rulemaking. If the judge signs off, the rules would likely affect vehicles sold in the state beginning in 2024.
The county board’s resolution, which follows language recommended by the Minnesota Rural Caucus, states that “the MPCA’s own documents show that the plan to mandate California’s low-emission and zero-emission vehicle standards is likely to increase the cost of all light- and medium-duty vehicles sold in Minnesota by an average of $1,139,” which would increase the county’s fleet procurement budget.
According to the resolution, “the MPCA estimates the rule will displace 674 million gallons of fuel by 2034, before the phasing out of fuel-powered vehicles, but the MPCA’s documents do not address the long-term consequences on our county’s transportation revenues.”
The resolution further argues that “batteries in electric vehicles weigh 10 times as much as batteries in vehicles with internal combustion engines and include more toxic elements, exposing our county to increased disposal costs and liabilities.”
The resolution asks the MPCA to consider “a more comprehensive policy.”
County commissioner Char Christenson said only 2,000 electric vehicles were sold last year. To eliminate gas-powered vehicles, another 18,000 would have to be sold. “And Gov. Tim Walz doesn’t have a plan for more charging stations,” she said.
County commissioner David De La Hunt agreed that was an issue, saying mid-range charging stations are expensive and take 20 to 30 minutes of charging to go 60 miles. “This doesn’t work,” he said. “When you think about us here in rural Minnesota – and the kind of miles we have to drive and the distance between places where there is nothing – I just think of Blackduck to International Falls. In an electric vehicle? Good luck to ya.”
Christenson said, at 20 below, the charging loses 40 percent in efficiency.
De La Hunt said EV buses have had to install diesel fuel heaters. “And the electric grid can’t handle it,” he continued. “Look at Texas.”
Board consensus was that the Minnesota Legislature should draft the policy, not the MPCA.
The ability to charge an EV battery came to downtown Park Rapids in 2020.
The city’s first “Type 2,” medium-speed charging station went online in October in the public parking lot at Pleasant Avenue and 3rd Street, adjacent to Pioneer Park. It can recharge an electric vehicle’s battery in 2-4 hours.
The project’s goals include attracting EV owners to shop downtown while their vehicles are charging.
Previously, the nearest charging stations that appeared on the PlugShare app’s travel map for EV users were a “Type 1,” low-speed outlet at AmericInn and another at the Vagabond Village campground.
Park Rapids City Planner Andrew Mack said that Arch Simonson, the developer of the Simonson Station Store under construction on State Hwy. 34, has expressed interest in installing one or two Level 3, high-speed charging stations there if ZEF is awarded the grant.
“Those charge a vehicle in 20-40 minutes,” said Mack.
Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association: driveawaycacars.org
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency: www.pca.state.mn.us/air/hows-air-0
Drive Electric Minnesota: www.driveelectricmn.org
Environmental Protection Agency: www.epa.gov/transportation-air-pollution-and-climate-change/accomplishments-and-success-air-pollution-transportation