Guest Commentary: Zero-emission vehicle sales mandate is wrong choice for Delaware


Rich Collins is a Republican representing Millsboro.

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control has published California’s Advanced Clean Cars II regulations — a milestone in adopting the controversial zero-emissions vehicle sales mandate in Delaware.

The proposal seeks to impose an escalating minimum requirement for new zero-emission vehicle sales (predominantly battery electric vehicles), while making fewer gasoline and diesel vehicles available to consumers. The restrictions would begin in late 2025 and eventually ban the sale and registration of all new fuel-powered cars, trucks and SUVs by late 2034.

As the ranking member of the House of Representatives’ Natural Resources & Energy Committee, I offer the following thoughts on why the mandate is terrible public policy:

  • While electric vehicles do not have tailpipes, they use electricity from plants producing emissions and hazardous waste. The vast majority of them are charged from the power grid. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, more than 60% of the nation’s electricity is produced using fossil fuels. Another 18% is generated by nuclear reactors producing highly radioactive waste, for which the nation has no long-term storage solutions.
  • Gov. John Carney, who started the electric vehicle sales mandate regulation process, concedes that Delawareans do not produce most of the state’s air pollution. Writing in a June 2018 opinion column on emissions from out-of-state power plants, the governor stated that 90% of Delaware’s air pollution comes from outside our borders.
  • The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control maintains it must force the adoption of EVs because of the impact of Delaware’s pollution on the downwind Philadelphia metro area. But, according to Philadelphia’s Air Quality Report 2021, the city’s annual air quality index has steadily and dramatically improved over the last four decades without electric vehicles making any significant contribution. In 1981, 159 “unhealthy” days (the fourth worst of six categories) were recorded. That number dropped to just six days in 2019 (pre-pandemic).
  • Delaware is not compelled to adopt the electric vehicle sales mandate rules. Pennsylvania, like Delaware, observes California’s vehicle emissions standards but has chosen not to promulgate regulations to eliminate consumer choice.
  • According to federal data, there were 1.31 billion light-duty vehicles worldwide in 2020. Delaware’s 967,400 cars, trucks and SUVs (2021) constitute less than 0.08 of 1% of all light-duty vehicles on the planet. Even if Delaware immediately banned the operation of all cars, trucks and SUVs, there would be no appreciable difference in any pollutant linked to global warming or climate change. The Carney administration’s EV policy is a costly and pointless grand gesture.
  • While Delawareans are being asked to surrender their freedom of choice and make enormous personal and public investments to embrace electric vehicles and reduce global carbon emissions, China is doubling down on using carbon-rich coal. From YaleEnvironment360: “In 2019, 58 percent of the country’s total energy consumption came from coal, … and China continues to build coal-fired power plants at a rate that outpaces the rest of the world combined.”
  • In Delaware and most of the nation, less than 1% of the vehicles are electric vehicles. As of the end of 2021, there were 967,400 vehicles registered in Delaware, of which 3,010 were EVs (0.31%).
  • Electric vehicle sales mandate proponents claim that used fuel-powered vehicles will still be available for purchase. There is reason to question this. California’s Advanced Clean Cars II regulations constitute a significant part of the broader “2022 Scoping Plan for Achieving Carbon Neutrality,” released last November. The plan envisions reducing demand for liquid petroleum by 94% by 2045 (relative to 2022). The only way to achieve this goal is to aggressively eliminate fuel-powered vehicles.
  • The supply of affordable used fuel-powered vehicles will likely be constricted because of higher emissions standards placed on these vehicles under the Advanced Clean Cars II regulations. Additionally, the EV sales mandates will drive up the cost of pre-owned internal combustion engine vehicles, as their availability dwindles.
  • According to an MIT Science Policy Review analysis, the lack of home-charging options for electric vehicle owners living in urban areas, apartments and condos presents a troubling inequity. The questions of how home charging can function in a city environment with on-street parking, and what level of government involvement and spending will be required to deal with this issue, are unquantified and unresolved.

These points highlight some of the flawed suppositions and challenges connected to Delaware’s headlong rush into a poorly considered policy. I want to ask all Delawareans to voice their opinions on this through May 26 by emailing written comments to

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