Minnesota might be a bit late to the party, but that doesn't diminish the importance of Gov. Tim Walz's announcement last week that the state will adopt stricter emissions standards for cars, trucks and SUVs.

The move would bring Minnesota into line with 14 other states, including most notably California, in efforts to boost fuel efficiency and control environment-harming emissions.

This puts Minnesota on a collision course with the Trump Administration's efforts to loosen fuel-efficiency standards. California, the nation's largest automobile market, is setting the pace, but President Trump's Department of Transportation wants to turn back to the clock and cancel those standards.

California and 23 other states, including Minnesota, have sued the Trump Administration, arguing that under the Clean Air Act of 1970, states have the right to set their own emissions standards.

Walz said he expects the states will win that case, and he wants Minnesota to be well-positioned to move forward when that happens.

What Walz is proposing makes sense. New cars in a given automaker's fleet of vehicles would have to meet a target of 5 percent drop in emissions each year through 2025. Emissions from trucks and SUVs would fall by 3.5 percent through the first two years, and by 5 percent a year through 2025.

This would certainly jump start the state's efforts to reduce emissions. The state has consistently failed to meet a bipartisan goal adopted in 2007 to reduce the state's carbon emissions by 15 percent by 2015 and 80 percent by 2050. 

Prefer to keep your smoke-belching vehicle? Under Waltz's proposals, car manufacturers would still be able to offer those to consumers, as long as a company's entire production fleet meets the emissions standard.

As part of the effort to lower emissions, Walz said the state will invest in charging stations at rest stops along highways for electric vehicles. And, as he noted, private businesses will likely provide charging stations for their customers. As a matter of fact, we've already seen that at some establishments in Rochester.

It's all part of a welcome move toward a future with cleaner air.

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