Guest Commentary: As Earth Day nears, DNREC secretary shares progress, outlook


Shawn M. Garvin is the secretary for Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

Public awareness of the need to care for and protect our planet typically increases in April with the arrival of Earth Day. It also provides an opportunity to take stock in our efforts, determine where we are and refocus on getting us to where we need to be.

When Delaware’s Climate Action Plan was released in November 2021, we noted that the strategies and actions contained in the document would serve as a guide to efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are driving the climate change we are experiencing today.

Some of those actions built off initiatives we were already working on. Others showed the benefits of taking additional steps toward greater emissions reductions and the positive impact they would achieve.

As we renew our commitment to our planet this Earth Day, we can be proud of the progress we are making toward reducing emissions by focusing on clean transportation, energy efficiency, clean energy, offsetting carbon emissions and more.


Our clean-transportation strategy includes moving forward to expand electric vehicle charging station availability, which we are accomplishing in partnership with the Delaware Department of Transportation as we develop a statewide charging station infrastructure plan.

Plans are also underway to help facilitate the installation of charging stations in multi-unit dwellings, and we are partnering with state agencies to develop charging station accessibility requirements to meet compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

We are also working to expand the availability of electric vehicles to provide more options to Delawareans. Putting Delaware in line with auto manufacturers that are already transitioning to clean-vehicle technology is a goal of the zero-emission vehicle program, which the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Division of Air Quality is currently gathering feedback on from stakeholders and residents.

In conjunction with the growth in electric vehicle sales, we want to ensure we take advantage of this opportunity to stimulate innovation and provide jobs. To achieve this, we are partnering with technical and vocational schools to provide electric vehicle maintenance and repair training programs inclusive of light-, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.

As more consumers choose electric vehicles, we are also working to ensure grid stability through examination of the benefits of incentivizing solar-powered charging stations.

Offsetting carbon emissions

Trees improve air and water quality, preserve soil and support wildlife. They also play a critical role in helping to fight climate change. In its first year, the Tree for Every Delawarean Initiative has helped plant more than 120,000 trees, with a goal of planting 1 million. Everyone can help. Go to and enter your planting on the tracker.

Clean energy

In an effort to determine the best path forward in efforts to increase the number of on-site renewable energy systems in residential and commercial buildings, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control has hired a consultant to help determine how current programs can contribute to actions highlighted in Delaware’s Climate Action Plan.

To expand solar opportunities to underserved and underrepresented communities, or those who may have found the cost to be a barrier, DNREC last year launched the Low- to Moderate-Income Solar Pilot Program. The program provides no- or low-cost solar systems to residents who qualify.

Energy efficiency

To improve energy efficiency and reduce energy costs, the department’s Energy Office is seeking to establish statewide energy code compliance-improvement goals of 10% annual improvement above current baseline.

The office is also working to provide technical support for municipalities to adopt more stringent local stretch codes with development of policy toolkits and training resources.

The department is also expanding current energy efficiency programs for residential and commercial buildings through existing incentives.

Expansion of energy efficiency opportunities for low- and moderate-income residents and small businesses is also underway, with our Energy Efficiency Investment Fund program, setting aside 20% of funds specifically for small businesses.

Moving forward

We are making progress, both in expanding existing programs and setting up new initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But we know we have to do more.

In its Sixth Assessment Report, released in March, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change noted that, as the Earth’s temperatures continue to rise, the window of opportunity for action is getting shorter.

According to the report’s authors, “The choices and actions implemented in this decade will have impacts now and for thousands of years.”

At the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, we are committed to the choices and actions that will benefit Delawareans and the Earth, now and far into the future. Every day is Earth Day.

To learn more about Delaware’s Climate Action Plan, visit

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