Hearing slated Wednesday on bill to bar DNREC from adopting 2035 California electric car standards

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DNREC photo of charging station.
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A bill that would bar Delaware Department of Natural Resources Secretary Shawn Garvin from adopting California emissions standards is scheduled for a hearing on Wednesday.

Under the standards, sales of new vehicles under 14,000 pounds with standard combustion engines would be prohibited instead of zero-emission vehicles beginning in 2035. Twenty percent of the vehicles would be plug-in hybrids with smaller gasoline engines.

A release from the Republican Senate caucus cited polls showing a soiid majority of Delawareans are against the 2035 mandate, including 73% of those surveyed in February. Another study showed  18% of respondents either somewhat or strongly support Delaware adopting California’s language regarding electric vehicles.

The state Republican Party has held statewide “town halls” in efforts to mobilize opposition to the mandate. The GOP also protested the lack of in-person participation in a DNREC public hearing, with the new chair of the state party saying the issue is a top priority.

There were complaints from backers of the 2035 mandate of a lack of civility among a few opponents during town halls and meetings.

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Supporters of the 2035 plan point to the number of states adopting the standard and the long timeframe leading to the mandate that 80% of vehicles sold in the state are battery-electrics.

The legislation’s hearing comes after the public comment period regarding the proposed regulation closed. Of the nearly 5,000 comments received by DNREC, over 93% oppose the mandate, Republicans said, while noting that some comments were duplicates.

Opponents have cited a lack of electric charging systems, the cost of EVs, and the mandate limiting freedom of choice.

The fiercest opposition to electric vehicles has often been along political lines, with a couple of Wyoming Republican legislators sponsoring a resolution to ban electric car sales in the state by 2035. The resolution was never adopted, with one of the sponsors saying he was trying to make a statement.

The hearing will allow Democrats in the General Assembly to weigh in on the issue, with Republicans hoping to sway some majority caucus members. Without any movement, the chances of the bill passing are slim.

The Senate Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Committee will meet Wednesday, June 7 at 1 p.m. SB 96 is the only bill on the committee’s agenda.

Information on viewing a live stream of the meeting is available here.

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