Postles and Hocker: Climate law could have sweeping impacts on state spending, priorities


Charles Postles is a Republican representing Milford. Gerald Hocker is a Republican representing Ocean View and serves as the Senate minority leader in the Delaware General Assembly.

Gov. John Carney recently signed legislation that could cost Delaware residents and businesses millions of dollars annually in higher taxes and increased expenses.

House Bill 99, the “Delaware Climate Change Solutions Act of 2023,” commits the state to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% over the next six years, compared to 2005. By 2050, the new law calls for the state to have net-zero emissions. Delaware’s Climate Action Plan will serve as the framework to guide all state agencies toward achieving these goals.

The Climate Action Plan is a 90-page document to reduce carbon emissions and reverse sea level rise, climate change and global warming. It calls for dozens of actions, such as implementing new building codes, adopting California’s Advanced Clean Trucks Program and new HVAC system mandates.

While improving environmental quality is a worthy goal, we question the wisdom of zealously, even recklessly, making climate change the emphasis of all our efforts.

Our collective resources are finite. Like any investment, we must consider where they will do the most good.

Consider that Delaware contains just 0.012% of the world’s population. Expressing this relationship differently, our state has about 1 million people, with 0.012% of that amounting to 120 — approximately the number of adults that would fit into three school buses. So Delaware’s population is to the world population what three busloads of people are to our state’s population.

Would eliminating the impact of 120 people in Delaware have any measurable effect on our state’s environment? No, it would not.

In fact, removing every human being from our state, as well as all our businesses and industries, would have no measurable influence on global warming or climate change.

Supporters of the plan will claim that Delaware must do its part as part of a unified effort to reduce carbon emissions. That might have more credibility if everyone were cooperating.

They’re not.

While Delawareans are being asked to surrender their freedom of choice and hard-earned income to curtail carbon emissions, China is doubling down on using carbon-rich coal. According to the Yale School of the Environment, 58% of China’s total energy consumption in 2019 came from coal, and it continues to build coal power plants at a rate outpacing the rest of the world combined. Between 2010-21, carbon dioxide emissions decreased in the U.S. by 12% but rose by a third in China over the same period.

The Delaware Climate Change Solutions Act of 2023 mandates all state agencies to consider climate change when creating new regulations or amending existing ones. It also mandates that the Climate Action Plan and the state’s greenhouse reduction goals guide their buying of new equipment; planning and bidding on construction and maintenance projects; making personnel assignments; and designing and operating public infrastructure.

Thousands of critical decisions influencing all our lives will spring from the ill-considered decision to tie public policy to the Climate Action Plan. The pending electric vehicle sales mandate regulations — prohibiting buying or registering a new fuel-powered vehicle in Delaware after the start of 2035 — are just one aspect of this linkage.

Another provision of the plan is the purchase of offshore wind power — despite the potentially significant impacts marine turbines could have on the environment and the tourism industry.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, offshore wind turbines are the most expensive conventional method for producing electricity — more than three times the cost of onshore wind energy or high-efficiency natural gas turbines.

While taking steps to improve the environment is to be commended, forcing citizens and businesses to shoulder huge new burdens in the misguided attempt to change the planet’s climate is as unreasonable as it is futile.

Analytical modeling referenced in the Climate Action Plan noted that, even if Delaware takes no new actions to minimize emissions, the state would still be producing about 20% fewer greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 compared to 2005 levels.

Instead of the blind pursuit of an onerous agenda with negligible local benefits, we should implement some of the Climate Change Plan’s worthwhile proposals, such as programs encouraging environmentally beneficial actions. Implementing these lower-cost, less invasive solutions would preserve consumer options, further reduce carbon emissions and leave us with the resources to deal with other unmet environmental concerns, such as illegal dumping; legacy contamination of our ponds, waterways and aquifers; and the silting of our inland bays.

Our irrational hyperfocus on trying to affect global warming and climate change will not only burden Delawareans in the form of lost income and freedom but cost them foregone opportunities to improve other, broader aspects of our local environment.

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