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Gov. Carney signs package of environmental protection bills into law

Quinn Kirkpatrick
Delaware Public Media

7 environmental protection bills were signed into law Thursday.

They include the Delaware Climate Change Solutions Act, which provides a comprehensive framework for establishing and achieving the state’s environmental protection goals.

That creates a target for greenhouse gas reductions, and a plan to regularly update the methods to do that. It also requires state agencies to consider climate change in their decision-making, rulemaking, and procurement.

“I've been doing this now for 30 years and I don't know that we've had an issue that's more important than this. More existential for our state, or country, and the world. I mean, it is really a local issue, a national issue, and a global issue. And there aren't many like that. And we can't do it all here in Delaware, but we need to do our part,” said Governor John Carney.

He adds that transitioning to a carbon-free economy will be hard, but necessary. And that includes making sure no one is left behind as changes are made to develop clean energy infrastructure and practices.

That idea is seen in State Rep. Sophie Phillips' bill, which codifies the state’s Electric Vehicle Rebate Program.

“And it also adds used vehicles to the program,” explained Phillips. “And that's incredibly important because most people buy used vehicles, and we want to make sure that we're making electric vehicles accessible not just to people who have a lot of money and can afford it, but for lower income families who want to switch to electric, too.”

Quinn Kirkpatrick
Delaware Public Media

Two other bills signed also address electric vehicles. One establishes an annual target and long-term plan for purchasing electric school buses, and another focuses on developing more comprehensive electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

State Senator Stephanie Hansen sponsored a bill that expands the duties of the State Energy Office.

“We actually expanded the State Energy Office to include additional positions and an additional charge to really work with interagencies, but also outside of Delaware with State Energy Offices in other states, as well. Because Delaware is small. Our grid is fairly small. And we depend on energy sources in many cases that are outside of our state,” said Hansen.

Developing an administrative structure is necessary to build and modernize Delaware’s energy grid, and develop new energy resources.

New energy resources are addressed in HB 11 and SB 170. HB11 requires new commercial buildings 50,000 square feet or more to be able to support solar energy infrastructure, and SB 170 focuses on developing a plan to procure offshore wind power.

Many of the bills in this package require the strategic collaboration between state agencies, most notably between the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, and the Delaware Department of Transportation.

Quinn Kirkpatrick was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware and graduated of the University of Delaware. She joined Delaware Public Media in June 2021