California’s clean-car influence grows despite Trump’s attacks

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Two Democratic governors have lined their up states to join the 13 others in adopting California’s rules to curb automobile greenhouse gas emissions, even after the Trump administration moved to nullify state authority on fuel-efficiency rules.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Wednesday directed his state’s environmental agency to begin drafting rules to cut tailpipe emission and bolster sales of electric cars, policies patterned on those set by California regulators. On Tuesday, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said her state would also adopt new tailpipe greenhouse gas and zero-emission vehicle requirements starting in the 2022 model year.

“It’s pretty obvious today amongst all chaos in the national news that we can’t count on Washington to lead, so Minnesota needs to,” Walz said at a press conference that was broadcast online.

Adding Minnesota and New Mexico would expand the reach of California’s vehicle greenhouse gas rules, which between California and the 13 others that have already adopted them already account for more than a third of U.S. auto sales.

The announcements also came in spite of the Trump administration’s formal action last week to eliminate California’s authority to regulate tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions and require companies to sell electric cars in higher numbers each year in the state – a major front in President Donald Trump’s policy war with California officials.

Minnesota and New Mexico’s actions were cheered by environmental advocates, who’ve railed against the Trump administration’s effort to rein in California’s authority to set emissions standards that are more stringent than those established by Washington, a power the state has had for decades.

“While the Trump administration is working to stall clean car standards, a growing number of states are stepping up and showing they want to protect their air and curtail the largest source of carbon pollution,” Luke Tonachel, director for clean cars and fuels at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement.

Automakers warn that new rules are only part of the puzzle when it comes to electric cars. States must also offer incentives such as tax credits for purchasing the vehicles, carpool-lane privileges and vehicle charger infrastructure, Bryan Goodman, a spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said in a statement.

If states are going to adopt the California zero emission vehicle mandate, they “would need to make a massive investment to create the necessary infrastructure and complementary policies to make the program work,” he said.

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