This guest column is by Isaac Orr, a Policy Fellow specializing in energy and environmental policy at Center of the American Experiment.

Gov. Tim Walz announced last month that he would be using the bureaucratic rule making process to impose California’s rules for low and zero emissions vehicles on to Minnesota car buyers. While the governor has tried to frame this as a win for consumer choice and the environment, the facts suggest his proposed regulations create more problems than they solve.

Isaac Orr, Center of the American Experiment
Isaac Orr, Center of the American Experiment

The rules will limit consumer choices for gas-powered cars. Governor Walz has argued that only about 19 of the 43 hybrid or electric vehicles (EVs) on the market nationally are available in Minnesota, and his rules will force auto manufacturers to offer more electric vehicle options.

The problem with this logic is that EVs are unprofitable for auto manufacturers. Gov. Walz’s mandates will force carmakers to sell electric cars at a loss, which means they must increase prices on regular gasoline and diesel powered cars to stay in business.

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As a result, EV mandates will drive up the cost of gas-powered vehicles for the 99% of Minnesotans who prefer them. Since most people work within a budget when buying a new car, drivers will have fewer choices than before.

EVs are smaller, lighter and less safe. When carmakers are forced to increase fuel efficiency, they often make cars smaller and lighter. Size and weight factor in to vehicle safety evaluations for good reason; because small, light cars fare worse in crash tests.

According to Esurance, “In a frontal collision, the front end is the part of the car that bears the most impact. A bigger front end gives a car more time to absorb the impact, slowing the car as the front end gets crushed … Smaller cars, with their smaller front ends, transfer more of a collision’s impact to their passengers, which can increase the risk of injury.”

Minnesota families already have many fuel-efficient car buying options, but the fact that SUVs and crossovers are growing in popularity suggests that factors like safety and comfort are more important for drivers in our state.

Unfortunately, Gov. Walz’s new rules will sacrifice safety for fuel economy. If Minnesotans wish to prioritize gas mileage over safety, that’s their right, but that is not the Governor’s decision to make.

There will be no measurable environmental benefits. Gov. Walz claims these new rules are a win for the climate, even making the absurd claim that they will ensure there is still “ice on the lake in January.” This is exceedingly disingenuous, as the math proves they will have no measurable impact on future global temperatures.

According to Gov. Walz, the new rules could reduce CO2 emissions from cars and trucks by 2 million tons per year by 2030. This is only about 1.3% of total state emissions according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Using the same climate models the Obama administration used to develop its Clean Power Plan, this would result in a temperature reduction of 0.000052 degrees C by 2100, which is far too small a change to measure using even the most sophisticated scientific equipment.

In short, these rules have foreseeable negative consequences that will impact the daily lives and choices of most drivers in Minnesota, without achieving any environmental impact.

Most of us don’t live in California for good reason, which is why it is disappointing Gov. Walz is attempting to use unelected bureaucrats in St. Paul to impose California car regulations on the good people of Minnesota.

Comments requested

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is taking comments on the planned new rules governing passenger vehicle emissions of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants. The public comment period closes at 4:30 P.M. Dec. 6. The notice is available on the MPCA Public Notice Webpage, or www.pca.state.mn.us/air/clean-cars-mn-rulemaking.

A public meeting in this area will be 5-7 p.m. Oct. 29 at Otter Tail County Government Services Center, 500 W. Fir Ave., Fergus Falls.