Change is in the air
The gradual move toward electric vehicles proposed by Gov. Carney, known as the Advanced Clean Cars II rule, will benefit Delawareans’ health and contribute to lowering global temperatures.
Although Rep. Danny Short of Seaford points out correctly in a March 31 letter to the editor that Delaware air quality has improved over the years, it remains poor in much of the state. In its 2022 State of the Air report, the American Lung Association gave New Castle County an F for ozone pollution and Sussex County a C.
Rep. Short blames our ozone problems on transport from other states. While this is historically true, an EPA rule finalized March 15 and co-sponsored by Sen. Tom Carper requires upwind states to install and consistently use pollution control equipment. This Good Neighbor Rule will result in upwind states curbing emissions that have long plagued downwind states like Delaware.
Delawareans, however, will continue to breathe significant levels of ozone from car and truck tailpipe emissions.
Anyone who drives a gas-powered car on our crowded roadways is essentially driving a little factory. Like the factory’s smokestack, the car’s tailpipe emits a stew of nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and benzene – a carcinogen. This is what we breathe on Route 1, particularly in crowded conditions in warm weather.
By gradually making electric vehicles available to Delaware car dealers, the ACCII rule will substantially ease ozone pollution. By 2035, our Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control expects that about a third of Delaware’s vehicles will be electric or plug-in hybrid. This will make a big air quality difference and will reduce rates of asthma, emphysema and bronchitis, saving lives and healthcare dollars.
The electric power for electric cars will itself come increasingly from clean, renewable energy. The state’s renewable portfolio standard requires that renewable energy sources generate 40% of electricity retail sales in the state by 2035, with at least 10% coming from solar energy.
Nor do the rules ban gas cars. Rather, Delawareans can buy used gas cars if they want and can drive their current gas cars if they want. After 2035, new car buyers can buy plug-in hybrids as well as EVs.
Innovations in battery technology and EV range are rapidly being made, and the state’s charging infrastructure will be expanded substantially in the coming years.
Rules similar to ACCII have already been proposed or enacted by multiple European Union countries, the United Kingdom, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, India, Israel, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Taiwan.
These countries have taken to heart the UN’s warnings, the latest of which states, “deep, rapid and sustained greenhouse gas emissions reductions are needed in all sectors … and must be cut almost in half by 2030 in order to stabilize rising temperatures.”
Meanwhile, General Motors, Ford, Daimler Volvo and other vehicle manufacturers have pledged to be all-electric by 2035. Delaware should realize the health benefits of electric cars and join the electric future.