U.S. Sen. Tom Carper is no fan of the internal combustion engine.
Delaware’s senior Senate member uses his position as a committee chair to press the Biden Administration to aggressively move toward the goal of ending the sale of gas and diesel-powered vehicles by 2035.
Along the way, Carper has picked up some bipartisan support for some of his climate initiatives. Last year, he joined with conservative U.S. Sen. John Kennedy on the use of refrigerants in vehicles, homes, and businesses that do less damage to the ozone layer.
Critics claim the new refrigerants are more expensive and have minimal impact on the atmosphere. They also point to his support aiding Chemours, the Delaware-based maker of refrigerants.
Carper argues that the shift to electric vehicles (EVs) is critical to the future of the American auto industry, citing China’s electric vehicle strategy as a threat to U.S. jobs.
It marks a sharp contrast to a year ago when the Trump Administration was suing California over its emissions standards that some states, including Delaware, had long followed.
Even with opposition from the previous administration, automakers were rolling out more electric models. The current trickle, currently led by Tesla, will turn into a flood over the next couple of years.
It wasn’t that long after the inauguration of former Vice President and Delaware U.S. Senator Joe Biden to the presidency. GM announced plans to “aspire” to going all-electric by 2035.That falls short of a promise.
California has Carper’s backing on a controversial 2019 deal brokered with some automakers. It calls for half of all vehicles sold in 2030 to be EVs and far stiffer emissions standards before that time.
The challenges of getting to the 50 percent figure are formidable but will come with real-life ways to determine whether the goal can be met.
Oil-rich Norway is moving forward with plans to ban the sale of gas and diesel vehicles by 2025. Other European nations are not that far behind.
Closer to home, Amazon is beginning to roll out a fleet of electric-powered delivery vehicles that will total 100,000 by 2030. The online giant has announced two EV vehicle terminals adjacent to its Delaware distribution centers.
Those who have followed Carper’s career know he is no Johnny come lately when it comes his interest in the auto industry.
As governor and congressman Carper spent time in Detroit in efforts to postpone the day, the GM and Chrysler would shut down their plants. The clock ran out in 2009 when the industry was on the brink of collapse.
Carper has been especially active in controlling diesel emissions, a sizable source of pollution, along Delaware’s I-95 corridor.
Carper has company in the move toward electrics.
Convenience store giant Wawa, arguably Delaware’s largest gas station chain, has rolled out Tesla charging stations around the region. Late last year, the company marked its 500,000th charge.
(In the accompanying photo, a family in Vienna, VA won a three-year Tesla lease) as part of a contest marking the milestone).
It will be interesting to see if Delaware’s senior senator can more quickly move the Biden-Harris Administration from ambitious goals to practical actions. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.