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By: Jane Brady, Chair, A Better Delaware

There’s a lot happening in the world of electric vehicle (EV) mandates, so now is a good time to take a check on where we stand, nationally and in Delaware.

Recently, the day after the Governor of Connecticut revoked a mandate establishing deadlines for compliance with minimum sales and registration requirements for EVs in his state, Governor Carney signed an executive order adopting the recommended regulations from the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) that impose such a mandate in Delaware.

This, despite the vocal and nearly universal opposition from the thousands of citizens who opposed the mandate. Despite the inadequacy of electric vehicles for long trips and hauling a trailer or RV. Despite the lack of infrastructure to support the consistent and reliable transmission of electricity to charge the vehicles, Despite the lack of availability of charging stations to charge EVs. Despite the cost.

The Governor of Connecticut conceded there was significant opposition to the mandate, based on the practical realities and yes, the current state of the science.

One of the most significant factors in public opposition to the mandate has been concern about being able to, literally, make it from here to there. Better infrastructure would give drivers more confidence that they would be able to find chargers along the route that would allow them to reach their final destination. And of course, do it in an efficient amount of time.

Recognizing that need, in 2021, Congress passed the infrastructure bill that included a $7.5 billion investment in electric vehicle chargers. Since then, not a single charger has been built. Zero. The objective was to have over 1 million public chargers available by 2030 to further the goal of the government that half of all new vehicles sold in the United States would be electric by that year. Some of the money has been authorized, but most states that have asked for grants to build the EV chargers have not yet let bids for construction and not a single charger has been constructed from those funds. It has been reported that the National Renewable Energy Laboratory concluded that to alleviate drivers’ anxiety about the range of EVs, the government would need to construct 25 million public charging units by 2030 with the cost greatly exceeding the number provided for in the infrastructure bill.

Part of the opposition to EV mandates is the cost, and they may have just gotten a lot more expensive. Many drivers who have purchased EVs have been motivated by the subsidies provided by the government, approximately $7500 per car. Recently, however, in response to outcry about the uneven application of the laws related to imported goods, the IRS and Department of Energy have proposed rules that would prohibit the subsidy for any EV with battery components assembled or manufactured by a “foreign entity of concern.” China has been designated as a foreign entity of concern and manufactures the overwhelming majority of electric vehicle batteries.

Absent the subsidy and facing increased costs of production if the batteries are manufactured in this country, demand will decrease. And, in a process that has been furthered largely by executive order both at the state and federal level, finally the peoples’ representatives might get a say. The US House of Representatives, just this week, passed the Choice in Automobile Retail Sales (CARS) Act, which would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from implementing the rules it has adopted that would restrict or limit the types of cars American consumers can purchase.

Although the government, both the White House and the Governor, have consistently contended that there is a rapidly growing demand for EVs, the reality is that there is a great deal of hesitancy and strong public opposition to a mandate. Recent decisions by car manufacturers reflect that reality. Demand is not keeping up with expectations, forcing them to revise their EV manufacturing plans.

The Governor should abandon the mandate and explore promoting such options as hybrids and natural gas and allow the science and technology to develop to accommodate our citizens’ needs, while continuing to further his objectives regarding clean and green energy.

Jane Brady serves as Chair of A Better Delaware. She previously served as Attorney General of Delaware and as a Judge of the Delaware Superior Court.