Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL – Rochester) expressed disappointment that the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee failed to pass the companion to her bill that would establish California car emissions standards in Minnesota. The bill would have set tougher standards in Minnesota for tail-pipe emissions of the pollutants that cause smog, acid rain, and global warming. Global warming in particular is a growing concern in Minnesota, where four of the last nine winters have been among the nine warmest on record.
"Global warming is an urgent problem," said Liebling. "Right here in Minnesota, we can't ice fish or ski like we used to because record warm winters are becoming the rule, not the exception. We should be looking at solutions now, instead of waiting until we see even more drastic changes. I'm disappointed that the 2006 Legislature has passed up the opportunity to become a Midwest leader on this issue, but I will continue to push Minnesota to adopt these standards next session."
Carbon dioxide emissions are the primary known cause of global warming. Cars and trucks are the second biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions after power plants, and vehicle carbon dioxide emissions are increasing at a faster rate than any other source.
In 2002, California became the first state to set standards for tail-pipe carbon dioxide emissions, which will go into effect for the 2009 model year. California was given the authority in the 1960's to set air quality standards beyond the federal standards because it had the worst air pollution problems in the nation. Other states may adopt California standards, but they cannot set their own rules. Eight states including Connecticut, Massachusetts and Oregon have followed suit by adopting California's standards, and two more states are in the process of adopting these standards. Adopting California car emissions standards in Minnesota would reduce automotive greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 30%.
"Some people have expressed concern that cars may be more expensive if we implement these standards," said Liebling. "But any increased cost would be easily recovered from the higher fuel efficiency of these cars, especially if gas prices keep going up. More fuel efficient cars and trucks would also reduce our dependence on foreign oil."