At the end of last month, the General Assembly has passed a sweeping set of measures that place efforts to reduce greenhouse gases to net zero by 2050 into the Delaware code. All are expected to receive the governor’s signature.
One wide-ranging bill was passed after similar legislation failed to pass last year, with business and other groups objecting to the measure being introduced late in the session without a thorough review.
That led sponsors to move to the “Delaware Way” and work with businesses and other constituencies to hammer out a bill that among other things, allows carbon offsets for planting trees and other measures to get to the goal of zero greenhouse gases.
One bill passed by a near-unanimous margin sets the stage for Delaware getting a place at the table when buying electricity from offshore wind farms. Neighboring New Jersey and Maryland are nearing construction of massive arrays of generators. A portion of a Maryland wind farm will be more than 16 miles off the Delaware coast.
Those outside the mainstream on environmental issues won’t be happy with the outcome.
That includes a few members of the General Assembly who are climate change skeptics along with some on the fringes of the environmental movement.
The most vocal critic is David Stevenson of the Glasgow-based Caesar Rodney Institute who is fine with Delaware currently meeting or exceeding current clean air standards and claims the cost of legislation on offshore wind and other issues will lead to high electric bills that will hit low-income residents the hardest.
Stevenson has been leading an effort to halt wind farm construction throughout the East Coast He has a laundry list of objections that included unproven threats to marine life, the rising cost of offshore wind, and the possibility of devastating effects on tourism.
The road to 2050 will have its bumpy spots, one being the looming decision by the DNREC chief on whether 80% of new vehicles sold in 2035 will be all electrics. The remainder would be comprised of plug-in hybrids.
A bill calling for the General Assembly, rather than DNREC, to make the final call on the electric vehicle mandate narrowly passed the House, with the Senate taking no action. That proved to be a victory of sorts for the state Republican party which held town halls protesting the mandate, with the Caesar Rodney Institute among the participants.
Polls and public hearing comments showed widespread opposition to the vehicle mandate.
Another concern is the backlog of solar-energy projects awaiting approval from regional grid operator PJM. PJM also sees signs that alternative energy sources won’t be able to pace with the retirement of inefficient coal or natural gas-fired power plants.
As noted in a story in this newsletter, Delaware ranks at the bottom in the percentage of electricity generated within its borders. Only one new gas-fired power plant has gone online in the past several years. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.