The Farmer Logo

Let’s not become California East

Adoption of California’s zero-emissions standards means heading down a rocky road.

Kevin Schulz, Editor

May 26, 2023

2 Min Read
Electric vehicle plug plus words "green energy"
DEFINE ‘GREEN’: Achieving a truly zero-emissions form of transportation may not be as simple as many want you to believe.asbe/Getty Images

There are a lot of good ideas. There are a lot of bad ideas.

It can be easy to jump on the bandwagon and follow the leader on a good idea. Sadly, far too often a bad idea is followed.

Such is the case of the state of Minnesota adopting California’s “zero-emission vehicle” mandate, calling for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency rules requiring that new cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty vehicles in the state meet emission limits set by California and match California’s requirements for the sale of a certain percentage of so-called “zero-emission vehicles,” as defined by California regulators.

Bravo to the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, the Minnesota Service Station & Convenience Store Association, National Association of Convenience Stores, Clean Fuels Development Coalition and ICM Inc. in filing a lawsuit against this mandate. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has asked that this lawsuit be thrown out.

MSGA, of course, has the interest of Minnesota’s 27,000 soybean farmers at heart, and justly so — as its grower-members have staked a claim to the biofuels industry. I agree that blindly following California’s lead by pushing one vehicle technology over another is asinine. Especially in a state where some of these fuels are homegrown.

This lawsuit, according to an MSGA press release, contends that the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act, which creates a uniform national standard for vehicle fuel efficiency, prohibits states from adopting policies “related to” federal fuel-economy standards. EPCA says that a “State or a political subdivision of a State” cannot “adopt or enforce a law or regulation related to fuel economy standards or average fuel economy standards.”

Finding alternative fuels for vehicles is important, and all options do need to be explored.

No zero-emissions

It’s also misleading to say that electric vehicles are zero-emission. True, the operation of said vehicle may not produce emissions, but the production that goes into the vehicle itself and the mining of the minerals that go into each battery cannot be ignored. As I see it, there is no such thing as a zero-emissions fuel source or vehicle.

There is a place and time for electric vehicles, but I don’t feel rural Minnesota for right now fits those criteria. The infrastructure for electric vehicles is growing, but it is not there yet. And I will need a lot more convincing before I am a believer in running an all-electric vehicle in a Minnesota winter.

Or for that matter, I do not see the time when American farms will be powered by an all-electric fleet of trucks and farm machinery. Improvements would need to be made to lessen the charge time, because farmers cannot tolerate downtime during a hectic planting season or harvest.

I’m all for being proven wrong.

I’m also all for personal choice, and the consumer should be able to make that choice — rather than a government (state or federal).

Just because California, or any other state, implements an ordinance, does not mean that Minnesota needs to follow. Let’s not become California East.

About the Author(s)

Kevin Schulz

Editor, The Farmer

Kevin Schulz joined The Farmer as editor in January of 2023, after spending two years as senior staff writer for Dakota Farmer and Nebraska Farmer magazines. Prior to joining these two magazines, he spent six years in a similar capacity with National Hog Farmer. Prior to joining National Hog Farmer, Schulz spent a long career as the editor of The Land magazine, an agricultural-rural life publication based in Mankato, Minn.

During his tenure at The Land, the publication grew from covering 55 Minnesota counties to encompassing the entire state, as well as 30 counties in northern Iowa. Covering all facets of Minnesota and Iowa agriculture, Schulz was able to stay close to his roots as a southern Minnesota farm boy raised on a corn, soybean and hog finishing farm.

One particular area where he stayed close to his roots is working with the FFA organization.

Covering the FFA programs stayed near and dear to his heart, and he has been recognized for such coverage over the years. He has received the Minnesota FFA Communicator of the Year award, was honored with the Minnesota Honorary FFA Degree in 2014 and inducted into the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame in 2018.

Schulz attended South Dakota State University, majoring in agricultural journalism. He was also a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and now belongs to its alumni organization.

His family continues to live on a southern Minnesota farm near where he grew up. He and his wife, Carol, have raised two daughters: Kristi, a 2014 University of Minnesota graduate who is married to Eric Van Otterloo and teaches at Mankato (Minn.) East High School, and Haley, a 2018 graduate of University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She is married to John Peake and teaches in Hayward, Wis. 

When not covering the agriculture industry on behalf of The Farmer's readers, Schulz enjoys spending time traveling with family, making it a quest to reach all 50 states — 47 so far — and three countries. He also enjoys reading, music, photography, playing basketball, and enjoying nature and campfires with friends and family.

[email protected]

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like