The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency recently proposed adopting clean car standards, a set of rules meant to reduce emissions from personal vehicles. This is critical, since transportation is responsible for more air pollution than any other sector. These pollutants include greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide that increase the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events like floods, droughts, and heat waves, as well as toxins and soot which contribute to health problems and diseases like asthma and COPD. These pollutants heavily impact people living close to roadways, poor people, and people of color.

So where is the opposition? Most of it seems to be based on misinformation; some have distorted views on what would change if clean car standards were adopted.

First, it would only regulate automakers, directing them to deliver more low- and zero-emissions vehicles to Minnesota. It wouldn’t force consumers to give up or modify their current vehicles. Nor would it force dealerships to sell or stock any vehicles they don’t want to. Anyone considering buying a car, new or used, would still have the same choices, plus some new electric and hybrid options to boot! A recent survey by Consumer Reports and the Union of Concerned Scientists of prospective car buyers in Minnesota found that roughly 60% are interested in electric vehicles, including 30% who would consider buying or leasing one within the next two years. Clearly, manufacturers aren’t meeting existing demand for them, which is exactly what adopting clean cars standards would address.

The adoption of clean car standards isn’t the radical government overreach opponents claim it to be. In fact, the rules are reasonable and modest, a small but crucial step toward a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable future. I encourage all Minnesotans to support the MPCA in making it happen.

Oakley Smith

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