Minnesota emission standards: Appeals court rules in favor of state in lawsuit

The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled Monday in favor of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency as the state faces a challenge from auto dealers over vehicle emission standards.

The Minnesota Auto Dealers Association brought the lawsuit in June 2022 over restrictions that would require dealers to carry a higher percentage of hybrids and electric vehicles on lots by 2025.

The auto dealers said the standards would leave them with an oversupply of electric vehicles and drive up vehicle costs.

The move is the result of Minnesota following California emission standards. California has unique powers to create its own standards as a result of a 1970 federal law that gave the state authority to deal with smog around Los Angeles. Other states can't adopt their own standards but can choose to follow California's standards or choose to abide by federal guidelines.

The opinion on Monday focused on whether the MPCA had erred by allowing California to guide Minnesota's standards. The auto dealer's association argued that abiding by another state's standards was a violation of Minnesota's constitution. Auto dealers also questioned whether the MPCA had the authority to establish a state-wide uniform standard.

However, judges ruled that the MPCA acted appropriately since any major changes to state standards require MPCA to "initiate rulemaking." The court also ruled that MPCA was within its authority to set standards for vehicles.

Unrelated to Monday's opinion, Minnesota hasn't yet decided whether to follow a new set of standards from California that would include a ban on gasoline vehicles by 2035. Minnesota's leaders have been reluctant to move forward with such a ban in Minnesota's harsh winter climate.