NOTE: This has been edited to correct information in speakers’ presentations.
Most of the 60 people who showed up at the Thursday Delaware GOP town hall about a state electric vehicle mandate were clearly and adamantly opposed to it.
A few, apparently members of the Sierra Club, which encouraged people to attend, spoke out in favor.
One agitated woman who described herself as retired drew applause when she pointed out that the battery mining industry uses slave labor and asked Garvin why they are trying to enrich China, which creates a large number of electric vehicle batteries.
In response, moderator Rep. Mike Smith, R-Pike Creek, reminded audiences to be respectful and use “inside voices so we don’t erupt here.”
Another woman supported the EV mandate, saying she thinks it will help Delaware move into the future and that people would still be able to drive gas vehicles even if the mandate is put in place.
The proposed mandate would require 35% of all new cars sold in Delaware to be zero-emission vehicles, like electric cars and plug-in hybrids, by 2025, and have all new cars sold be zero-emission vehicles by 2035.
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is expected this spring to issue regulations related to the mandate, created by an executive order from Gov. John Carney.
Thursday’s event at Brandywine Hundred Fire Company in Bellefonte was the second of five town halls planned by the Delaware State Republican Party leading up to the regulation release.
The crowd was down from the 350 that the GOP said attended Monday’s town hall in Sussex County at the Indian River Senior Center.
RELATED STORY: Delaware to put $1.4 million into electric vehicle chargers
Thursday night, the audience heard from David Legates, a former Delaware state climatologist; David Stevenson, the director of Caesar Rodney Institute’s Center for Energy & Environmental Policy; and Shawn Garvin, DNREC secretary.
Legates used a slide show that he said that floods and droughts in New Castle County were caused by humans but had nothing to do with climate change, while Stevenson talked about how electric cars are bad for the environment.
Legates said his graphs and pictures showed that carbon dioxide doesn’t cause disastrous climate change and that sea level rise has nothing to do with carbon dioxide concentrations but that it is currently rising and will amount to about one foot by 2100
Stevenson said full battery electric vehicles emit more carbon dioxide emissions than gasoline hybrids and that new gasoline hybrids would be banned along with all new gas powered vehicles. He also said the energy produced for electric vehicles will come from fossil fuels, and that the materials used in making electric vehicle batteries, such as cobalt, are a product of child slave labor.
Stevenson also pointed out that electric vehicles will not be paying fuel taxes into the Highway Trust Fund. While Garvin didn’t discuss that, Delaware has been researching ways to have people pay taxes based on mileage rather than fuel because so many cars have a high mileage rate now and because electric vehicles would not be paying any fuel tax.
Garvin, who also will attend the GOP’s March 30 town hall, said that the regulations will be released April 1, with the public comment period opening up later in April.
Garvin said he appreciated the opportunity to get the word out about what they’re doing, and that he didn’t hear any new complaints at the town hall.
Electric vehicle regulation
“This is a process that we’re involved in and part of that process is we want to get feedback so we can take that into consideration when we do the rulemaking,” Garvin said. “There were a lot of people that raised issues that we’ve heard for the last nine months. I don’t think I heard anything here that was new.”
Garvin said the regulation process may take longer than usual depending on how much public comments they receive.
He said he couldn’t predict how the regulation process would last until he sees how much public comment is coming in.
One person said he had been told that after 2035, the state would not allow gas vehicles to be registered, even if they belong to people who move in from another state.
That is not true, Garvin said. The state will continue to register gasoline-powered vehicles.
Garvin responded to some of the statements made by members of the audience and from Legates and Stevenson, but not all, including the comment about the electric battery industry using child labor and enriching China.
Dustyn Thompson, chapter director of the Delaware Sierra Club, responded to some of the issues raised, including whether older houses could handle electric vehicles.
He also corrected Garvin’s statement that people who bought an electric vehicle out-of-state now would register it just like a gasoline-powered one, but Thompson said that wasn’t true. EV owners have to jump through a few more hoops, he said.
Brady said that the Sierra Club asked its members to attend the town hall, and speak out.
She supported the move, saying the events are for people to be heard and it was their right to attend and speak out.
Thursday night’s meeting was generally more genteel than the Monday one, Brady said, describing Sussex County as more “rambunctious.”
On Thursday, organizers had two petitions people could fill out, to support or oppose the mandate.
They did the same on Monday, and Delaware GOP Chair Jane Brady said that someone had hidden the petition in favor of the mandate.
On Thursday night, organizers taped the in-favor petition to the table.
Upcoming town halls include:
- Tuesday, March 28th between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. at 160 Peoples Plaza in Glasgow.
- Wednesday, March 29th between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. at Camden-Wyoming Fire Company.
- Thursday, March 30th between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. at Chambers Memorial Hall/Mill Creek Fire Company.
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