Minnesota’s California car mandates will go into effect next year. Will Walz move to ban gas engines entirely?

Minnesota will adopt California’s car mandates requiring an increase in electric vehicles offered for sale and decreased tailpipe emissions of carbon dioxide after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up a lawsuit filed by the Minnesota Auto Dealers, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

As a result, Minnesota auto dealers will collectively be required to stock approximately 14,000 new electric vehicles on their lots throughout the state in 2024, which is about half as many fully battery electric vehicles on the road in Minnesota today as of the most recent vehicle registration data from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s website.

However, the regulation requiring EVs to be stocked in Minnesota would only be in effect for one year because California has updated its regulations to ban the sale of new internal combustion engines in 2035. This presents the Walz administration with a choice to make.

Under the Clean Air Act, states must either follow federal environmental standards or California’s standards. Because there is no federal mandate for electric cars, Minnesota would either need to adopt California’s ban on selling new gas and diesel-powered engines in 2035 or revert to federal regulations, thus allowing the current electric vehicle mandates to expire after one model year.

Given that the Biden administration is trying to enact new Environmental Protection Agency regulations effectively mandating that 66 percent of new cars sold be electric by 2032, it is probably unlikely that the Walz administration will seek to take the political hit associated with enacting a complete ban on new gas and diesel engine sales by 2035.

However, Walz is rumored to have presidential aspirations, and he used the last legislative session in Minnesota to pass a raft of extremely progressive policies to bolster his national resume, so he could theoretically seek to enact the ban on gas and diesel engines to further bolster his environmental bona fides in a Democratic primary.

Time will tell.