Witham: Are Delaware citizens becoming Californians?


William L. Witham Jr., a retired Kent County resident judge, is an advisory board member for A Better Delaware. He is also a former leader in the U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard, with 34 years of service.

It would appear that Delaware is embarking on directly controlling the technological development of transportation for its citizens. We may be faced, if the current Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control plans are adopted, with being treated as if we are residents of California without our consent. I will not deal with the obvious legal issues with this concept, since the rules in question are not the same ones unveiled for public comment and discussion under the state Administrative Procedures Act. This fact may very well undermine the ability of DNREC to impose the proposed regulations.

The department seeks a goal of 82% zero-emission vehicles by 2032. This is only about eight years away. The plan is to have car manufacturers sell 82% emission-free vehicles by this date, with only 18% allocated to traditional gas-powered vehicles. This seems to be an impossible task, since this will cause an economic upheaval, to say the least.

What is remarkable is that DNREC admits that thousands of Delawareans submitted comments, attended public meetings and responded to polls. And the result? The people have spoken — they oppose this radical agenda. Our tone-deaf bureaucrats in that agency say they are doing this for our own good — such hubris and arrogance cannot be ignored.

Increasingly, all Americans are rejecting the aim to electrify transportation, home heating and all appliances, and to rely on power mostly generated by wind and solar. We all know for a fact that, currently, this is not possible without fossil fuels as backup for wind and solar. The most economically emission-free fuel is nuclear, but the environmentalists refuse to consider this source. Despite pushing generous subsidies, electric vehicles are piling up on dealer lots. Recently, 3,881 car dealers signed a letter, pleading with the president to back off on the unrealistic government electric vehicle mandate. Initially, there was great public interest in the new technology of electric vehicles. They seem to work well for commuter buyers with short distances to travel and who have easy access to overnight charging in garages or at work and who have second cars, usually gas-powered, for longer trips.

We are now learning of the myriad of problems associated with EVs. They are expensive to build and purchase, thus the governmental subsidies. They have a more limited range and greater weight than gasoline cars or trucks. Large trucks would require larger batteries, have less space for cargo and go fewer miles, thus increasing the transportation costs for all Americans. Unreliability is a key factor. According to a study by Consumer Reports, many electric vehicles are less reliable than gas or diesel engines or hybrids. They have higher repair costs. A battery replacement can cost over $20,000. They do not do well in accidents. On average, they cost 23% more to insure than gasoline-powered cars, and when they catch on fire, it is “burn, baby burn”! The fires are very difficult to put out.

On average, an EV with a sticker price of about $53,000 would cost about $100,000 without government incentives to the purchaser and manufacturer. The main reason you see these vehicles on the road is not because of a generalized consumer choice but because of government mandates.

We have not touched upon the economic hardships that dealers, repair shops, supply chains and trucking industries will face. With an 82% reduction of gas-powered cars by 2032, we do not have the necessary infrastructure to support the effort. Slow and inefficient chargers will not help. We will experience, once again, long lines at gas stations, like in the ’70s. The demand on our energy grid will increase and make electricity more expensive.

Automakers are already responding, by cutting back on electric vehicle production. Ford revealed that its EV division posted a quarterly loss of $1.33 billion and lost $1.08 billion in the previous quarter. The same for GM. Its losses total $1.5 billion in profits last quarter. These losses will continue, so long as our government enforces unsustainable mandates to implement fossil fuel-free or “net-zero” energy systems. Delaware has yet to address the significant economic, societal or environmental consequences of a near-total reliance on renewable energy and the required battery backup that is necessary to transition to a fossil fuel-free future.

Reader reactions, pro or con, are welcomed at civiltalk@iniusa.org.

Members and subscribers make this story possible.
You can help support non-partisan, community journalism.