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VIEWPOINT: Zero-Emission Vehicle policy is a misguided overreach

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As a friend and admirer of Gov. John Carney, I am sorry to have to write to oppose his Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) policy. I am actually shocked that the governor would even attempt to impose such a far-reaching, incredibly disruptive mandate on the people of this state without a vote.

John Riley

John Riley | COURTESY PHOTO

I am not swayed in the least by the fact that California has mandated this measure in their state. The policy there has already proven misguided by the fact that the governor had to restrict car charging during one of California’s more frequently occurring power crises. Imagine a widespread and extended power outage hitting Delaware after a hurricane in 2050 when all our vehicles are sitting idle because the batteries are all drained and can’t be recharged.

Below are some additional points I would like to have considered:

  1. There has been a serious lack of effort to communicate this issue to the taxpayer/consumers of the state.
  2. This mandate is the most extensive assault on our free enterprise system in history without a vote.
  3. The policy will create a hardship from a cost and convenience standpoint and will fall heaviest on those who are uninformed and least able to afford it.
  4. This will cause widespread disruption to our small businesses (gas stations, auto repair, etc.) who will have their lives and business model turned upside down.
  5. There is an almost infinitesimal benefit to the environment from all this disruption. The data on this is compelling: according to the Wall Street Journal, transportation is only 20% of emissions, but cars (the focus of this mandate) represent less than 6%. While personal vehicles may be the majority of cars, they account for a minority of light-vehicle emissions. So, everyone in Delaware will have their lives disrupted so politicians can say they are doing something for the environment while the Chinese continue to spew carbon into the air while choking off the supply of rare earth minerals needed to make batteries.
  6. There are numerous additional unknowns related to costs, i.e., potential increased cost of repairs of gasoline-powered cars as everything is forced to shift, cost of gasoline during the transition, cost of EVs as demand ramps up, especially with our dependency on unfriendly countries for battery materials.
  7. The serious challenges and uncertainties of long-distance travel mostly due to battery charging times and waiting in line to even use chargers.
  8. The challenge of disposing of millions of these thousand-pound batteries.

I am not against electric vehicles, but the answer to this is to let the market work. EVs already have the advantage of subsidies and national policy behind them. Car manufacturers are being forced to build EVs by our federal government and misguided state policies.

Let the people – the consumer – decide, not policy makers. At a minimum, delay adopting this mandate for at least five years to better assess the benefits and challenges of implementing such a policy. 

John Riley is a Delaware author, former interim CEO of the Delaware Prosperity Partnership and former Ashland executive.

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