Date Posted: Wednesday, December 6th, 2023

PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING EXCERPT FROM THE DE HoR Newsletter regarding Electric Vehicle Mandates:

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) announced late yesterday that it has finalized regulations mandating the aggressive, increasing sale of new zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) – predominately battery-electric vehicles.

The rules, to be published in tomorrow’s issue of the Delaware Register of Regulations, are a modified version of California’s controversial Advanced Clean Car II program.

Under the final regulations, starting with model year 2027 (Fall 2026), 43% of all new cars and trucks vehicle-makers ship to Delaware will be required to be ZEVs. That percentage will increase annually to 82% by model year 2032. The regulations will expire in model year 2033.

The rules do not prohibit the sale of pre-owned internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, nor will they eliminate the sale of new ICE vehicles, as state environmental regulators had previously proposed. However, fuel-powered vehicles are expected to be required to meet increasingly stringent proposed federal emissions standards, and ZEV sales mandates will significantly reduce the supply of available new and used ICE vehicles in The First State.

Wednesday’s announcement comes despite broad public opposition to the ZEV sales mandate regulations. Of the 4,426 individual public comments submitted to DNREC as part of the promulgation process, nearly 94.5% opposed the regulatory restriction on selling new fuel-powered vehicles. Approximately 1,500 people participated in five public meetings held statewide to discuss the issue this past spring, with attendees expressing overwhelming opposition to the proposal. The same attitudes were in evidence in a February phone survey by Ragnar Research. The poll of 300 likely voters throughout Delaware revealed that a majority (73%) opposed severely limiting the sale of new cars powered by gasoline and diesel. The study’s margin of error was ±6%.

DNREC’s announcement on the finalized regulations stated:

Pollution from transportation is a leading contributor to Delaware’s greenhouse gas emissions. Gas and diesel vehicles are also significant sources of nitrogen oxides. These pollutants adversely affect public health and interact with sunlight to form harmful ground-level ozone pollution. The regulations will reduce these forms of pollution and contribute to the improved health of underserved communities that are more likely to be near busy roadways.

However, Gov. John Carney — whose directive started the process of promulgating the ZEV sales mandate regulations, seemingly undercut this rationale. In a June 2018 opinion column lamenting the lack of pollution controls on out-of-state power plants, the governor stated that “90% of Delaware’s air pollution comes from other states.” 

Under the regulations, zero-emission vehicles can be plug-in hybrids, battery-electric vehicles, or hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.  Pragmatically, ZEVs will be predominately battery-electric vehicles. The rules dictate that hybrids can account for no more than 20% of total ZEV sales. Hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles are not widely available, have no supporting infrastructure, and are unlikely to be obtainable or practical anytime soon. 

State Rep. Rich Collins, R-Millsboro, who has twice successfully challenged DNREC actions in court, believes the agency is again on thin legal ice. “The rules they announced yesterday are not the same rules they unveiled for public discussion earlier this year,” he said. “Under the state Administrative Procedures Act, they should be resubmitting this altered proposal for review, not finalizing it.”

Rep. Collins added that DNREC’s actions are a slap in the face of Delaware citizens who clearly told the agency they did not support this proposal. “Thousands of Delawareans submitted comments, came to public meetings, and responded to polls, and they overwhelmingly told DNREC they did not want them to pursue this. This is an action of profound disrespect to all Delawareans. Essentially, DNREC is following their agenda at the expense of citizens’ rights and then having the gall to tell them they are doing it for their own good. DNREC is the embodiment of hubris.”

The automotive industry and consumers are pushing back against state and federal initiatives to force electric vehicles onto American car lots and driveways. 

Earlier this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new emissions standards effectively requiring that 67.5% of U.S. vehicle sales be electric by 2032 – an initiative less ambitious than that proposed by DNREC. 

In response to the EPA rule, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which represents automakers, stated that the federal regulation is “neither reasonable nor achievable in the time frame provided.”

Last month, the National Automotive Dealers Association issued a statement on the EPA proposal, noting that it “ignores real-world consumer demand and goes too far, too fast.” NADA maintains the plans are fundamentally flawed because conditions that are needed first to make electric vehicles broadly attractive to consumers – i.e., vehicle affordability, a sufficient and reliable charging infrastructure, and acceptable charging speeds – do not yet exist. The group also noted the federal rule’s hyper-focus on EV sales, to the exclusion of other alternatively-fueled vehicles, reduces consumer choice and increases cost, creating a barrier to the adoption of other types of less polluting vehicles.

Consumer demand for EVs has diminished sharply due to consistently high prices, the limitations and concerns associated with the technology, and higher auto loan interest rates. According to a CNBC article published November 1, selling an EV in the U.S. this past August took about twice as long as it did in January.

According to U.S. Department of Energy registration data for cars, trucks, and SUVs in Delaware for 2022, there were 5,390 electric vehicles, 2,800 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and 0 hydrogen vehicles. In the same year, the DOE reports there were 66,200 E85 vehicles, 795,400 powered by gasoline, and 14,500 using diesel in the state.


A Bill That Would Give Legislative Discretion Over Zero-Emissions Vehicle Sales Mandate Awaits Consideration in Senate

A bill that cleared the House of Representatives earlier this year seeks to empower lawmakers to reverse yesterday’s announced decision to impose zero-emission vehicle mandates on the sale of new cars, trucks, and SUVs in Delaware.

House Bill 123, sponsored by State House Republican Leader Mike Ramone (R-Pike Creek South), would only allow DNREC to adopt the regulations with the consent of the General Assembly. The provisions of the bill would be retroactive to March 1, 2023.

Remarking on the bill in June, Rep. Ramone said that Delawareans seeking a new vehicle should be free to select the one that best meets their families’ needs and means.

House Bill 123 narrowly won House approval on June 30 by a vote of 21 to 20. The measure is now in the Senate Environment, Energy & Transportation C