Delaware wants to increase the number of electric vehicles sold in the state. (Photo by Chuttersnap on Unsplash)

DNREC hears mostly support for EV mandate

Sam HautGovernment, Headlines

Delaware wants to increase the number of electric vehicles sold in the state. (Photo by Chuttersnap on Unsplash)

Delaware wants to increase the number of electric vehicles sold in the state. (Photo by Chuttersnap on Unsplash)

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control on Wednesday heard from over 50 passionate people on a proposed electric vehicle regulation.

The proposed Advanced Clean Car Program would, starting with the 2026 model year, require 35% of cars sold by Delaware dealerships to be zero-emission vehicles. That percentage would increase about 8% annually until it reaches 100% by 2035.

Of the over 130 people scheduled to speak during the four-hour session, around 40 spoke for the regulations and 11 spoke against. Over 50 people who signed up to speak were absent from the hearing, which had people commenting at DNREC’s office and through Zoom.

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Most spoke as individuals, with officials including Clayton’s mayor and a representative of the American Lung Association.

Delaware is already in an electric supply and demand crisis,” Clayton Mayor Nick Smith said, expressing concern about the burden it places on municipalities.

“The Indian River power plants being forced to must-run and the municipalities paying hundreds of millions of extra dollars throughout the next four and a half years while at the same time rapidly increasing the demand in an adequate system by requiring people to move to electric vehicles,” he said.

“In Delaware, we’ve estimated over $5 billion in public health benefits cumulatively by 2050 for transition to zero emission, passenger vehicles, trucks and cleaner energy,” said Will Barrett, national senior director for clean air advocacy with the American Lung Association.

“Our study points to hundreds of lives saved, over 10,000 asthma attacks avoided, over 55,000 lost workdays avoided because the air will be that much cleaner.”

What others said about EVs

Judy Butler has taken many steps to reduce her carbon footprint, like buying electric vehicles and investing in companies that support alternative energy. And she feels the government needs to step up and take more action.

“To achieve the kind of dramatic reductions in hydrocarbon pollutants and greenhouse gases, needed to safeguard future generations, we must have effective, strong governmental policies,” she said. “Therefore, I strongly support the Advanced Clean Cars II initiative.”

Robert Thomas said he opposes DNREC having sole discretion over the decision.

“It creates a taxation that we have not been able to vote on or say yes,” he said. “This whole thing is a mandate should not be passed by DNREC, but it should be done as legislative. It should be put on the ballot and let the people and the citizens of this state vote in favor or in disfavor of using this zero emissions vehicle standard.”

Sue Vatnick said she lives near a highway, so her health is negatively affected by tailpipe emissions, which the regulation would help to lower.

“New Castle County received a D in ozone levels from the State of the Air report card issued by the American Lung Association,” she said. “We must continue to lower tailpipe emissions in Delaware for the sake of our health to help put the brakes on climate change. Zero-emission vehicles are our future.”

Delaware’s criteria for zero-emission vehicles are based on California regulations, which require the vehicles must have a minimum range of 200 miles, last 10 years or 150,000 miles, and meet other requirements related to the battery, charging, warranty and servicing.

Kyle Krall, an engineer with DNREC, said many rules are taken from California’s Advanced Clean Cars I rules and cite those regulations.

Krall said that Gov. John Carney wants to reduce Delaware’s emissions 25 to 28% by 2025 compared to 2005 levels. Delaware has reduced emissions by 18.3%.

Delaware has also joined 16 other states – California, Connecticut, Colorado, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington – in adopting more stringent vehicle emission standards.

The rules also distribute zero-emission credits, which are similar to greenhouse emission credits and can be moved from state to state, and are based on the number of zero-emission vehicles manufacturers sell in states that are following the Advanced Clean Car rules.

Several commenters criticized town halls by the Delaware GOP because of what they called inaccurate information.

RELATED: The scene from one town hall

At the end of March, the Delaware GOP held five town halls across the state, all featuring David Legates, a former Delaware state climatologist, and David Stevenson, director of Caesar Rodney Institute’s Center for Energy & Environmental Policy. DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin attended two.

A lot of the information presented was really incorrect,” Mary Jane Elliot said of the one she attended. “It gave the impression that EVs were costly and dangerous, and … the Advanced Clean Cars II problem was really not presented accurately.”

Comments about the proposal can be submitted online to DNREC until May 26.

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