This story was published on May 6.

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A debate over the cars we drive in Minnesota could impact your summer plans.

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The state wants to cut 80% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It says regulating our vehicle emissions is a powerful step to get there, but your next vacation could wind up stuck in the middle.

Every year, 10 million visitors like Kevin Coleman enjoy Minnesota State parks and trails. He’s an Afton State Park regular.

“I like to come out here and just take in the wildlife and get in a good run,” Coleman said.

After a booming 2020, the DNR is gearing up for another jam-packed summer. WCCO spoke with Erika Rivers, director of Minnesota State Parks and Trails with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“These are very well-loved places. Minnesotans have a great affinity for them,” Rivers said.

But your summer camping trip could be cancelled due to a debate at the Capitol over plans for new “clean cars” emissions standards. The policy Gov. Tim Walz directed the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to draft would put more electric vehicles on Minnesota car lots, and would regulate what comes out of tailpipes, with stricter standards for manufacturers.

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(credit: CBS)

Craig McDonnell, the MPCA’s assistant commissioner for air and climate policy, says it’s necessary to fight climate change.

“For Minnesotans who want to purchase an EV, they’ll have more choice in the marketplace. The Minnesotans who want to purchase a gas-powered car, and they still can, this doesn’t require anyone to purchase an EV, will be able to purchase the cleanest, you know, most fuel-efficient option,” `McDonnell said. “It regulates the tailpipe, what’s coming out of the tailpipe. It would require manufacturers to certify that they’re meeting more stringent standards [that] 15 other states have adopted.”

But some GOP lawmakers, including Rep. Josh Heintzeman, R-Nisswa, say it will drive up costs for all vehicles — a sticking point that could stall the state’s budget.

“This could cause and would likely cause, if the rule became law, each vehicle sold in the state of Minnesota to increase by $1,000 in cost, which of course that sends people across the border,” Heintzeman said. “If it’s that critical of an issue, which it very well may be, we really believe this is something that should come through Minnesota’s legislature.”

No agreement by the end of the session on May 17 would leave the DNR and others without an operating budget come July 1, and could force park closures days before the most popular camping holiday of the year.

“We’re going to be busy this summer, and a lot of people are going to be getting outside and having a good time, and I’m hopeful,” Rivers said.

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MPCA officials say if Minnesota doesn’t adopt the new emissions standards, the state will default to less-strict federal standards.

Erin Hassanzadeh