The Minnesota Senate must ask tough questions about the Walz administration’s California car mandates

Next Monday, the Minnesota Senate Environment and Natural Resources Finance committee will hold a hearing on the Walz Administration’s California car mandates. You can watch the hearing below

This is good news because in 2021, the Walz administration unilaterally adopted California’s Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV) standard, requiring automakers to stock around 14,000 electric vehicles (EVs) in Minnesota.

Since then, however, California has formally banned the sale of new gasoline and diesel-powered engines after 2035. The new California rules accelerate requirements that automakers deliver an increasing number of zero-emission light-duty vehicles each year beginning in the model year 2026.

Sales of new ZEVs and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles will start with 35 percent that year, build to 68 percent in 2030, and reach 100 percent in 2035.

California’s stricter rules leave the Walz administration with an important question to answer: will they stop mandating the sale of electric vehicles in 2026, or will they adopt California’s new rules that will ultimately ban the sale of new gasoline and diesel passenger vehicles in 2035?

The Walz administration has not been straightforward about whether they will enact California’s ban on gas engine sales. Thus far, the Walz administration has said they don’t have a plan to enact these vehicle bans, but they won’t rule it out, either.

Minnesotans deserve to know whether their choice of fuel will be restricted under the Walz administration, but Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner Katrina Kessler said that line of questioning was “premature.”

This could not be further from the truth because of Governor Walz’s history of baiting and switching his policy preferences, especially when it comes to energy and environmental issues.

For example, Candidate Walz campaigned on a pledge to raise the gas tax, but he was careful never to disclose how much he wanted to raise it, stating only that the increase would be “modest.”

Upon being elected, Walz attempted to raise gas prices by 20 cents per gallon, which would cost Minnesota households an additional $300 per year. Minnesotan’s probably don’t think this sum is modest.

On the campaign trail, Candidate Walz said he supported replacing the Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline, telling the Star Tribune he was satisfied with the Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) decision to allow the project to move forward.

Shortly after being sworn in as Governor, Walz delayed the pipeline multiple times, making the United States more dependent upon foreign oil.

Candidate Walz campaigned on enacting a 50 percent renewable energy mandate in Minnesota, which would require at least 50 percent of the electricity generated in the state to come from wind or solar by 2030.

As Governor, Walz has again lurched to the left of Candidate Walz, recently unveiling his plan for 100 percent “carbon-free” by 2040, a policy that would cost the average Minnesota electricity customer $3,880 per year and cause devastating winter blackouts.

Given the Governor’s tendency to say one thing but do another, the Minnesota Senate needs to keep asking the question: will Governor Walz enact California’s ban on gas and diesel engines, or not? This has to be a yes or no answer with no equivocation about “no current plans” to do so.

Will he promise to take this policy off the table, or not? The people of Minnesota deserve to know.