Republican legislators unhappy with lack of in-person hearing option on 2035 electric vehicle rule

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DNREC photo of charging station.
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Delaware Senate and House Republicans are unhappy with the format of Wednesday’s DNREC public hearing on 2035 vehicle regulations.

The regulations call for 80% of all vehicles sold in 2035 to be all electric, with the remainder being plug-in hybrids with small internal combustion engines. The regulations mirror California’s standards, which Delaware has used to govern vehicle emissions.

A Delaware Department of Natural Resources spokesperson defended the processings, noting the large number particpants and the legal rules governing the hearing process.

According to a release from Republicans, State Sen, Brian Pettyjohn, R-Georgetown, earlier asked DNREC for the hearing to be hybrid (in-person and virtual) rather than remote only and to hold in-person hearings around the state.

Republican legislators issued the following statement, which according to a release, had the support of all GOP members of the General Assembly.

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“Secretary Garvin did not respond to Senator Pettyjohn’s correspondence until the date of the hearing and only after the senator sent a follow-up email. Senator Pettyjohn did speak, on multiple occasions, with members of Governor Carney’s staff in the weeks leading up to the hearing, and he was told the administration viewed these requests as reasonable.

“However, none of the accommodations were met. The Kent County Levy Court building was used as a pseudo-physical anchor location, but those who wished to participate had to do so virtually. Neither Secretary Garvin nor any DNREC official responsible for the promulgation of the regulation was present at the facility.

“The public comment period is open until May 26, 2023. We call on Secretary Garvin and the Governor’s administration to follow through on the latter two requests noted above prior to that date. Those who were, and are, unable to participate virtually should be allowed to do so in person.”

Nikki A. Lavoie chief communications officer for DNREC responded with the following:

“As the Department updates and amends Delaware’s air quality regulations, we follow a process that ensures information is publicly accessible and includes meaningful, inclusive public participation. DNREC hosted five public workshops on the Advanced Clean Car II-Zero emission vehicle air regulation. Workshop recordings are published on our website, dnrec.delaware.gov. DNREC subject-matter experts and Department leadership including Secretary Garvin also joined other community-hosted forums, such as a webinar hosted by the Sierra Club of Delaware and town halls hosted by Delaware Republicans.

“The formal Public Hearing held on April 26 is a legal proceeding; it differs from a public meeting or community workshop. All relevant public comments, whether made verbally at the Public Hearing or in writing before or after the hearing, carry the same weight and are considered equally by the Secretary. And, in fact, 263 people joined the nearly four -hour public hearing. The Secretary will rely on compliance with the state and federal law – in this case the federal Clean Air Act – on information submitted in the Department’s technical response document, and comments received from the public during the process to make his decision.

“Each Public Hearing has its own webpage, found at de.gov/dnrechearings, that includes the full hearing record ⁠— the hearing transcript, exhibits, all public comments, the technical response memo, the Hearing Officer’s Report, and the Secretary’s Order. Here’s the short URL to this one: de.gov/accregs

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