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Balancing Chemical Regulations with Safety is Vital to the Health of Delaware’s Infrastructure and Economy

By: Jane Brady, Chair, A Better Delaware

In the world of construction, safety and innovation go hand in hand. Recognizing the critical role the construction industry plays in driving a robust and thriving economy, we must strike a balance between strong regulation grounded in science and fostering growth. Recent discussions about the EPA’s overreach in regulating chemicals, particularly formaldehyde, have sparked debates about the future of construction in our state. While ensuring the well-being of our workforce is paramount, it is essential to recognize that overregulating chemicals like formaldehyde could have detrimental effects on Delaware’s construction sector.

Formaldehyde is a chemical compound widely used in various construction materials, including plywood, insulation, and adhesives, because of its unique ability to strengthen materials and improve their durability.

Concerns have arisen about its potential health risks, particularly with prolonged exposure of workers to high levels of formaldehyde. Protecting the health and safety of construction workers is a top priority for the construction industry. We are committed to upholding the highest standards for worker well-being and safety. In our state, stringent regulations are already in place to monitor and limit exposure to substances, including formaldehyde. Companies are required to adhere to strict guidelines, conduct regular safety training, and provide protective gear to workers. We take these measures seriously, and we are continually working to improve them.

However, overregulating chemicals like formaldehyde could inadvertently harm based on flawed science the construction industry in Delaware in several ways. Firstly, excessive regulations can drive up production costs. When manufacturers are forced to invest in costly alternatives or redesign their products, these expenses are often passed down to contractors and, ultimately, the clients. Higher construction costs could lead to reduced economic activity, decreased job opportunities, and potentially hamper the growth of our industry.

Furthermore, overregulation can stifle innovation. The construction sector is continually evolving, and chemical compounds like formaldehyde play a crucial role in developing new, more efficient building materials. Restricting or banning such chemicals could hinder the development of sustainable and environmentally friendly construction materials vital in our journey toward a greener future. We must balance environmental concerns and fostering innovation within our industry.

In Delaware, we pride ourselves on our open dialogue and collaboration with regulatory agencies and environmental organizations. We believe that a balanced approach to chemical regulation is essential, one that considers the industry’s need for innovation and growth, while also ensuring the health and safety of our workforce and the environment. We must avoid knee-jerk reactions that could have unintended consequences.

It’s important that we support measures that promote responsible chemical management, worker safety, and environmental stewardship. However, we should urge policymakers to engage with industry experts, conduct comprehensive risk assessments that consider all of the science, and consider the broader implications of chemical regulations on our state’s construction sector and others.

Chemicals like formaldehyde are integral to the construction industry, offering durability and innovation while supporting job creation and economic growth. While it is crucial to prioritize worker safety and environmental health, overregulating these chemicals could have detrimental effects on our industry. We must work collaboratively to strike a balance that allows us to continue building a brighter future for Delaware while protecting our workers and the environment.

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.

 

We’re Not Ready, So What’s the Rush?

By Bob Ricker, Guest Contributor

On January 29, 1886, Carl Benz applied for a patent for his gasoline powered vehicle, creating the birth of the automobile. In 1901, Connecticut created the first statewide traffic laws. In 1910, New York introduced the first drunk driving laws. In 1950, Nash Motors included the first seat belts in American cars. But it was not until 1968 & 1970 when Federal Safety Standards were adopted and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was established, setting and enforcing safety performance standards for motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment. Ultimately, with a product that was efficient, inexpensive, and profitable, it took American industry and the governing agencies nearly 85 years to smooth out the bumps in the gasoline automobile industry. What makes us now think we can do the same with the electric vehicle (EV) industry in 10-15 years?

EVs have been around for nearly 100 years as well, but unlike gas powered vehicles, repeated efforts at an efficient, cost effective or reliable product have failed.

But, regardless of the practicalities, there is a movement in our great State to force Delaware citizens down a path that is nowhere near ready to be traveled: The Electric Vehicle Mandate.

I will not comment on the political aspects of this decision, as I am not in politics. But I do have something to say regarding the negative impact of EV’s on the Delaware Fire Service. I will stick to the facts.

While the Delaware Volunteer Fire Service strives to keep up with the ever-changing job of just being a firefighter, we now find ourselves in a uniquely precarious situation. The electric vehicle industry presents the fire service with challenges that we are not 100% prepared to deal with properly, electric vehicle fires and electric vehicle accidents.

EV fires, most often originating in the batteries, are extremely dangerous, a risk to the environment and, many times, uncontrollable until they burn themselves out. They burn in a jet-engine like fashion and can easily explode, sometimes that happens in a garage and affects the entire dwelling.

In the event of an EV battery fire, fire companies must apply thousands of gallons of water to cool the batteries and to try to stop a very dangerous situation called “thermal runaway”. This occurs when one cell fails in the battery, producing heat, causing other cells to catch on fire and create an uncontrollable increase in temperature. Typically, a gas-powered vehicle fire only requires a few hundred gallons of water to extinguish. Furthermore, the runoff from these thousands of gallons of water can be highly toxic and may require environmental management.

I know there are those who will say that EV batteries are perfectly safe, and in a perfect world they are. But so is dynamite until you light it. Lithium-Ion batteries, which most EVs rely upon for power, are totally safe until a user either over-charges, over-draws, modifies or damages the cells, or the battery encounters a human being who tries to plug their EV charger in a 100’ 16/3 extension cord, because the cord on the charger isn’t long enough to reach around in back of their chest freezer in the garage.

The point is, misuse or failure to properly use EVs have consequences far more serious than we have seen with gas powered vehicles, and require different equipment, tactics, and safe response protocols, for which we have not yet been fully trained.

EV accidents put both the victim and the rescuer at risk and present other multi-faceted problems.
First, to the best of our knowledge, there does not exist across the board standards of the location, routing, color, and size of the high-voltage transmission lines sending the 600 volts of electricity to the drive units of the vehicle. This poses a life-threatening dilemma when the rescuers try to determine where to cut or pry to free a victim from the wreckage. Time is of the essence in these cases, and an incorrect choice or a delayed decision may cause a catastrophic event injuring or killing the firefighter or crash victim.

Finally, we all know the wonders that the “Jaws of Life” have achieved when used to extricate injured victims from a damaged vehicle, but there are serious issues with an EV and using the jaws of life. Spreading, Cutting or Ramming in the wrong place could result in damage to the battery, thus putting the rescuer and the victim further in harm’s way.

While there are several Facebook scribes who have endeavored to suggest solutions to these issues, they invariably lament “this procedure may not work on every EV” or “Refer to the Manufacturers ERG (Emergency Response Guide).” The fact remains there are no nationally approved tactics or strategies yet developed to get seriously trapped Delawareans out safely.

In defense of the auto industry, they are finally making strides to make the rescue process safer, but we still have quite a way to go.

Fortunately, EV incidents, so far, have been few due to the small amount of EV’s on the road but the forced mandate will result in a quick and significant growth in those numbers.

The Delaware Fire Service has always found a way to safeguard those we serve, and I am certain one day we will have the resources, skills and training to properly address EV challenges. But, in all candor, give us a fighting chance, what is the rush?

Bob Ricker joined the Georgetown Fire Company in 1975 and has served as Fire Chief, Deputy Chief, Assistant Chief, Vice-President and Board of Directors and currently serves as Secretary. Mr. Ricker served as Mayor of the Town of Georgetown for two terms, Vice-Mayor for one term and 5 years on the town’s planning Commission. In 1985, Mr. Ricker and his wife purchased the family business, Baker’s Hardware in Millsboro. Together they have transformed a small hardware store into one of the most successful Outdoor Power Equipment dealerships on the east coast.

 

 

 

 

Carbon Dioxide and Air Temperature: Who Leads and Who Follows?

Which came first:  The chicken or the egg?

By: David R. Legates

In the era of climate change, this age-old question has received a new facelift. Now it becomes—Which came first:  The rise in carbon dioxide or the rise in air temperature?

Since the dawn of climate change alarmism, we have been told that carbon dioxide is the driver of climate change. Increase carbon dioxide, and consequently, air temperature increases. So, if we decrease the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it stands to reason that global warming will be abated. It’s just that simple.

Or is it? Many climatologists have noted that carbon dioxide is not the climate change driver alarmists purport it to be. An article in the Epoch Times suggests that a fixation on carbon dioxide ignores the real drivers of air temperature, which include the Sun and natural variability. But the idea that carbon dioxide is somehow the climate change control knob does not die easily.

In 2007, Laurie David and Cambria Gordon published a book entitled The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming. It was billed as “from the producer of [Al Gore’s] An Inconvenient Truth comes a powerful, kid-friendly, and engaging book that will get kids get [sic] interested in the environment!”  On page 18, a flap instructs children to “lift to see how well CO2 and temperature go together.”  The graph that becomes exposed shows that as time passes over the last 650,000 years, “the more the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the higher the temperature climbed…the less carbon dioxide, the more the temperature fell…by connecting rising CO2 to rising temperature scientists have discovered the link between greenhouse-gas pollution and global warming.”

The figure is from an article in Science by Fischer and colleagues in 1999.The problem is that the axes are mislabeled in The Down-to-Earth Guide—the air temperature axis is labelled “CO2 concentration in the atmosphere” while the carbon dioxide axis is labelled “climate temperature”. As the Science article noted, “High-resolution records from Antarctic ice cores show that carbon dioxide concentrations increased…600 ± 400 years after the warming of the last three deglaciations.”

Subsequent research has confirmed that carbon dioxide follows and does not lead to atmospheric air temperature. For example, in an article in Science in 2001, the authors include a graph that shows carbon dioxide concentrations following air temperature by a period of less than 1000 years. Another article in Science in 2003 concluded that “the CO2 increase lagged Antarctic deglacial warming by 800 ± 200 years”. A review paper in 2007 concluded that little evidence exists that greenhouse gases “have accounted for even as much as half of the reconstructed glacial-interglacial temperature changes”. Another paper in Science in 2007 wrote that the East Antarctica ice core “shows no indication that greenhouse gases have played a key role in such a coupling [with air temperature].”  A more recent study by W. Jackson Davis in 2017 concluded that “changes in atmospheric CO2 concentration did not cause temperature change in the ancient climate”.

I have been writing that CO2 is not a magic climate change control knob for more than a decade. Rather than being a pollutant, carbon dioxide is food for plants. This is good news for animal life and humans as well. We must stop the demonization of carbon dioxide and embrace its effects as the whole biosphere benefits from additional carbon dioxide.

David R. Legates is an emeritus professor at the University of Delaware and is the Director of Research and Education at the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. He also is an Advisory Board Member of A Better Delaware.

 

 

WHAT WOULD ABE LINCOLN THINK ABOUT OUR SCHOOLS

By: Nancy Mercante, Guest Contributor

Perhaps Abraham Lincoln gave the best description of the underlying authority of our government in his Gettysburg Address when he said it was “of the people, by the people and for the people.”  Of all the layers of today’s government from federal, state, county, and city, the one intended to function closest with the people is the local school board, elected to work on behalf of and with parents in overseeing the education of their children.

This function is so important on so many levels — children, families, future work force, and the nation — that it seems unconscionable for a community not to take an active interest in the workings and performance of the school board. But here we are in Delaware where the voter turnout in school board elections is a dismal average of five percent.

School board members wield considerable power over the education and social development of children. While their primary function is to elect and oversee the superintendent, let’s drill down on what that includes.

  • Allocation and oversight of millions of taxpayer dollars.
  • Construction and maintenance of extensive infrastructure.
  • Selection and implementation of curriculum and textbooks.
  • Ensuring the safety of students and teachers.
  • Maximizing student outcomes to the highest degree.
  • Promoting the involvement of parents and community in education.
  • Personnel and Human Resource management.

 So, why is voter turnout is so low when the stakes are so high? Could it be that every aspect of our school system is working so well that we face the threat of being overrun with doctors and rocket scientists? Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Here are the alarming facts based on information taken from the Delaware Dept. of Education and National Assessment of Educational Progress:

  • Delaware spent an average of $20,230 per student in 2023. 13th highest in the nation.
  • Students being promoted through Delaware’s schools simply cannot read, write, and do math at grade level.

   Nationally, Delaware ranked:        

  • 47th in fourth grade math
  • 46th in sixth grade reading
  • 45th in eighth grade math and reading.

High cost and poor outcomes! Are we getting what we are paying for and what must we do?

Study the issues, follow the candidates, spread the word, and vote. It’s that simple.

 You can visit Citizens For Delaware Schools – A Grassroots Organization founded to help us improve the quality of education in Delaware, (C4DS) for up-to-date information on what’s happening and information about the school board candidates. Candidates were asked to submit their positions on key issues in their own words by March 28th. Their responses will be included in the C4DS Voters Guide to be published on our website in early April. C4DS invites you to ask questions, make suggestions, and lend a hand.

 Honest Abe once said, “Upon the subject of education, …I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we, as a people, can be engaged in.”  Surely, he was right!

Get out and vote in the School Board elections on May 14th.

 Nancy Mercante had a career in corporate communications for major companies in the financial, pharmaceutical and telecommunications industries. She founded Citizens for Delaware Schools, a nonpartisan nonprofit, two years ago to advocate for a better education for every student in Delaware.