All Pain, No Gain

Hundreds of Minnesotans showed up in August at 16 town meetings statewide to protest against a proposal from the Walz administration that would put unelected bureaucrats on the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in charge of deciding what cars Minnesotans can drive.

The meetings were organized by Center of the American Experiment and the Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association.

Walz’s proposed regulations would allow CARB to set fuel mileage standards for all Minnesota vehicles and force Minnesota’s auto dealers to stock unpopular and unprofitable electric vehicles on their lots. These California car regulations would increase the cost of driving for Minnesotans up to $2,500 per vehicle while having zero measurable environmental benefits.

“The regulations would be all pain and no gain,” according to Isaac Orr, a policy fellow at the Center who specializes in energy issues.

“Dealers see the mandate for what it is, it’s a violent intrusion into their business to fix a problem that Minnesota doesn’t have,” states Scott Lambert, president of the Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association.

The Walz proposal provides no way for Minnesotans to adapt to the significant differences between the California and Minnesota markets, according to Orr. Minnesota’s colder climate, for example, reduces electric-vehicle range by up to 40 percent. On top of that, he says, 82 percent of new vehicles sold in Minnesota are large-a stark contrast to California.

Orr says Minnesotans already have access to all the top-selling electricvehicle brands, and research concedes there is almost no demand for other electric vehicles. What’s more, he adds, California’s burdensome fuel mileage standards would prevent Minnesotans from buying the cars they actually want.

An analysis performed for the Colorado Auto Dealers Association estimated that the California rules would increase the cost of conventional gas-powered cars by up to $2,500 per car. In states that favor larger vehicles, like Minnesota, it would take more than 14 years for a 2022 model year truck to recoup this up-front cost through fuel savings. The average age for a vehicle in Minnesota is only 11.8 years, making it likely the rules will never pay for themselves.

Perhaps more troubling, according to Orr, is that the proposed standards will arguably have no impact on the environment. Advocates claim the rules would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2 million tons per year. “This sounds like a lot until you realize that global emissions were 36 billion tons in 2019,” Orr says, meaning the action would reduce about 0.01 percent of the worldwide total. “This would only reduce future global temperatures by 0.000052 degrees C by 2100, an amount far too small to measure with the most sophisticated scientific equipment,” Orr continues. “These rules would impose real hardship on Minnesota families for imaginary benefits.”

Micah Olson, Greater Minnesota outreach director at American Experiment, says the Center’s town meetings reached thousands of Minnesotans through the mail, social media, and local interviews. “I found the tour as a whole to be a roaring success,” he adds, highlighting that Minnesotans can email their opinions about the California car mandates to the governor and the MPCA through NoCACars.com.