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Blogs and Articles

A scandal-worthy dereliction of duty by Delaware’s Election Commissioner

By Ben duPont, Guest Contributor

Like all office holders in our state, Election Commissioner Anthony Albence took an oath to serve Delaware faithfully in accordance with the state and federal constitutions. Unfortunately, he has decided to break that oath by putting his own party’s political interests over the rights of Delaware voters.

Mr. Albence is attempting to block our group, No Labels Delaware, from gaining ballot access in the state. No Labels’ work in Delaware is part of our nationwide effort to secure a ballot line that we could potentially offer to a Unity presidential ticket in 2024, featuring a Republican and Democrat as running mates. We’re undertaking this work on behalf of the majority of Americans and Delawareans who are unsatisfied with their two likely choices for president and are demanding another option.

Unfortunately, many partisans have proven they will stop at nothing to prevent that option from being offered. Mr. Albence is now engaged in a clear and shameful attempt to eliminate competition for President Biden in his home state.

Mr. Albence wants to block No Labels Delaware from the ballot on the pretext of a ridiculously thin accusation, based on a handful of phone calls and an anonymous tip from a reporter, that No Labels Delaware is “tricking” voters during the registration process. Never mind that we utilize best-in-class measures to prevent confusion among all voters we register, such as having our organizers wear t-shirts that say “THIS IS NOT A PETITION” in bold letters and requiring them to complete multiple rounds of training.  We also use only the official form, published by the Commissioner himself, that features “All-in-One Form to Register to Vote” in bold at the top.

These measures are exactly why Mr. Albence can only identify a handful of potential instances of voter confusion out of the 1,316 registrations we have successfully submitted. A 1 to 2 percent misunderstanding rate does not invalidate the other 98% of our registered voters and does not constitute a sufficient basis for disqualification. To assert otherwise is absurd.

Even worse, Mr. Albence is attempting to change the rules of how to register voters in order to make it impossible for No Labels Delaware to succeed. State law mandates that we register party members to secure ballot access, but he claims we cannot proactively approach or ask voters to register with us, and that the voters must approach us instead. This is an outrageous violation of our most basic First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and association. It also poses a clear catch-22 by making No Labels unable to qualify for the ballot and yet unable to do anything that would allow us to qualify. And that, of course, is exactly how Mr. Albence wants it.

His actions make a mockery of the democratic process and Americans’ constitutional right to influence the ballot. It is a clear misuse of government power to shut down electoral competition and secure advantages for his own party, and a terrible look for the president’s home state. I believe President Biden has an ethical obligation to intervene and stand up for the rights of Delaware voters. If he chooses to stand idly by while his party rigs ballots in his favor, he’ll lose any credibility in his constant moralizing about defending democracy.

The real victim of this isn’t No Labels, it’s the people of Delaware. This is a shameful affront to their right to have a say over their electoral choices, and it comes from the very person tasked with defending that right. It’s a reminder of exactly why so many people despise our two-party political system: it is more focused on self-preservation and power than actually serving voters. No wonder so many Delawareans have been eager to register with our party and support a fresh choice in 2024. I can assure them that we will not rest until our party status and ballot access have been restored.

Ben serves as a director of UrbanBound, GigSky, Ecrio, Vorbeck, Longwood Gardens, Zip Code Wilmington, and the Tower Hill School. Previously, he served as Co-Chair of A Better Delaware.

 

 

Navigating Delaware’s Legislative Process: A Users Guide

By: Jane Brady, Chair, A Better Delaware 

On Tuesday, January 9, the 152nd General Assembly reconvened in Legislative Hall in Dover. We at A Better Delaware thought it would be a good idea to give you some information about the General Assembly and ways you can learn what policies and laws the legislators are considering.

The General Assembly session runs for two years, the current one from November 2022 to November 2024, coinciding with the election of senators and representatives. While in session, legislators will be attending committee hearings, introducing legislation, seeking support for their ideas, and bringing bills to the floor. You may feel that it would be impossible to know what is going on in the General Assembly. And, while it is a complex process, with some “backroom meetings,” there are ways to learn about the status of a bill what the bill says or who is sponsoring a bill. The information is on a website at www.legis@delaware,gov

The website is fairly easy to use. When you log onto the page, there will be informational boxes with different types of information to which you can link. One, called Session Info has a link to the 2024 Legislative Session Schedule. If you click on that, it will display a calendar showing when the General Assembly will be meeting, when it will be in recess, and when it will be holding Joint Finance or Bond Committee hearings.

The General Assembly in Delaware meets from January through June three days a week, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The sessions begin at 2:00 PM, although it’s hard to know exactly when sessions will begin because sometimes committee hearings run over time, sometimes there are Democrat and Republican caucus meetings. Sessions also vary in when they end, and toward the last of June may go quite late.

In addition to the schedule, you can find the agenda items that are on for the next several legislative days. Each of the items listed allows you to click on the meeting, of a committee or task force, and find out who the chair is and what might be on the specific agenda. Be aware that items are added there regularly, so it is not a static list. Further down the page you can find the last action taken on specific legislation.  That list becomes much more fluid as the session goes on.

Many of the meetings and the sessions provide for virtual participation. You can click on the link and view the meeting or session. That does not entitle you to speak, however, simply observe.

If you want to find out information about a particular bill, you can put in the bill number or a keyword to search. If you can’t find it, or you want to look at all the bills that are currently pending, you can see a full list by clicking on “view the full list” and that will tell you the bill number of all pending legislation, the sponsor, the title (which doesn’t always tell you exactly what the bill is about), what committee it is assigned to, if it has been voted out of committee and if it is ready for a vote by the House or Senate.

If you aren’t sure who your legislator is, there is a place to put in your address and click to determine who your senator and representative are, their address at Legislative Hall, and their state email address if you want to reach out to them.

Finally at the bottom, there is information on redistricting, the Budget and Bond bills, and Grant-in-aid information, which is a program that provides taxpayer assistance to certain nonprofit organizations.

So, as you can see, there is a lot of information provided to you free of charge in the comfort of your own living room or office that will help you be better informed about what policies and laws the legislators, in your district and around the state, are proposing and where those proposals are in the legislative process.

So, now we have an action item for you. Go to our website, look at our mission and policy statements, and when you see a bill that furthers, or one that hinders, our objectives, let your legislator know where you stand on the issue and why. If you have not already signed up to be a Member of A Better Delaware, do so, and get access to exclusive conversations with our experts. And, if you have a good idea, share it with your legislator. Be a part of making Delaware a better place to grow a business, go to school or enjoy the beauty Delaware has to offer.

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. 

 

Common Sense Policies, Not More Money will Make for A Better Delaware in 2024

By: Jane Brady, Chair, A Better Delaware 

Each January, the Governor delivers a State of the State address, which is given in the chambers of the General Assembly, to report on the condition of the state in all respects, and often serves to highlight the executive branch priorities for the coming year. Members of the Governor’s cabinet, the judiciary, and the General Assembly attend, and afterward, the politicians, media and pundits’ comment and report on the content of the speech.

Generally, topics include the health of the economy, education, workforce development, healthcare, and our natural resources. Usually, there are references to what will be reflected in the Governor’s proposed budget relative to those topics. But I want to encourage the Governor to consider that money is not always needed to make the lives of Delawareans better.

In fact, in many instances, we have spent more and more money over the years with little or no change in results. What we need are new and bold ideas and changes in policy.

Most significantly, education stands out. While we rank in the top 10 in spending per student, we are three or four from the bottom in academic performance. According to the state Department of Education, more than a dozen Delaware schools have single digit proficiency in math and reading – fewer than one in 10 of the students can read or do math at grade level. Spending more money clearly does not work.

Other states have had to address this same issue. The Governor should look to Mississippi, which passed a law that any child that cannot read at grade level in third grade does not get promoted to fourth until they can. They have seen incredible results, rising from the bottom to now, 21 among the states – Delaware is Number 47.

. Many states are looking to school choice not only to give parents more authority over their child’s education, but to allow those children assigned to the poorly performing schools to escape a bloated and ineffective system that serves neither student nor teacher.

Our school discipline policies are disrupting the learning and teaching environment and putting students, teachers, and staff at risk. We need to return to a system that demands accountability and provide alternative classrooms and environments and additional mental health services to give all students a learning environment essential to their success.

According to the Federal Reserve, our gross domestic product (GDP), which reflects the value of the goods and services we produce in the state, is below zero – yes, it is shrinking. We need to reduce the taxes and regulations on our small businesses, which are the engine of our economy right now, and many of which are minority- and woman-owned, to generate our economy and encourage entrepreneurs to venture into the business world or invest to grow their businesses.

Education lays at the heart of other policy challenges, Again, there is opportunity. Companies do not want to locate here if the available workforce is not capable of doing the jobs a company might bring to our state. And we are not just talking about scientists or doctors. There is now an organization in our state that is teaching potential union and construction workers what they need to know to pass the apprenticeship exam, skills they should have learned in our public education system.

Our access to good health care at a reasonable price is affected by the requirement that the government approve new services or facilities. The Certificate of Need requirement gives those already in health care an advantage and limits competition. Many other states have eliminated the requirement, and we should too.

Delaware received a grade of F from the Center for Public Integrity. We need to expand our Freedom of Information Act, giving the public more transparency into government, and to establish the position of Inspector General, who will objectively review our state agencies and be a watchdog for fraud, abuse, and misconduct.

There are many other areas in which changes can be made. Overwhelmingly, our citizens oppose the electric vehicle mandate, but the Governor disregarded our opposition and imposed the strict and onerous law, unsupported by the necessary infrastructure and science to make it practical. We have adopted policies that limit our ability to escape federal oversight of our environmental efforts, and we have failed to properly invest the more than $4 billion in surplus funds our state has had in the past three years. And, while the state has used much of that money on building structures and roads, we adopted a policy that makes all those projects more expensive, carelessly spending our tax dollars.

It is January. Our Governor will be presenting a State of the State address to the citizens, his cabinet, and the General Assembly. I hope to hear him address these issues and lead Delaware forward with new, common-sense policies that will make our state a better place to live, work and play.

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. 

 

 

 

2023 – A Great Year!

As we look back on 2023, a lot has happened at A Better Delaware = all of it good!!

Kathleen Rutherford is forging a new path with her consulting company but remains engaged with us. Ethan Lang joined us as Executive Director and remained until he returned to school. He is now a senior at Dartmouth. We wish him the best and look forward to the exciting contributions he will make to our state.

We added several members to our advisory board, including John Marinucci, who retired from the School Board Association and has an excellent background in the dynamic, economic facets of education, as well as Beth Conaway, who served as a teacher and principal in Sussex County for number of years.

In April Jane Brady came on as a Co-Chair with founder Chris Kenny, bringing a number of years of experience in public policy and advocacy as well as a familiarity with the law related to many of the issues with which A Better Delaware deals. In September, founder Chris Kenny stepped back from the organization and Jane became Chair of A Better Delaware. Chris remains vitally interested in the well- being of our state, and we all hear from him regularly.

Our mailing list has grown, and frequently has had more than 10,000 people open one of our weekly emails. For the last three months, we have been publishing at least one comprehensive issue- based blog a week. If you are not receiving our email, we invite you to go to our website, www.abetterdelaware.org  and sign up!

We also established a membership program which will give our members, (for an annual fee), the opportunity to participate in Members Only briefings and discussions with our experts on the issues facing Delaware.

ABD’s newly launched Dinner and a Movie series has been a huge success! We offer organizations the opportunity to learn about the inspiring and successful effort of a single mom in Washington DC who advocated for her son and other children in the district to be able to attend better schools than those to which they were assigned. If you would like us to bring the program to your organization, let us know. The next showing is scheduled for January 22, 2024, at the Congo Legacy Center, located at 501 W. 28th St. Wilmington. You can sign up here.

We advocated against overreach by government. Together with the Caesar Rodney Institute, we advocated for a rational and science-based approach to wind power and fought back against the course that the state is taking which will increase costs to consumers and make the provision of power less reliable. And, again with others including CRI, we vigorously opposed legislation that would have required union contractors on all state construction contracts, making those jobs more costly.

As we look forward to 2024, there are many exciting projects we are preparing.  Our members-only speaking series, a podcast, expanded publishing and increased visibility.

We encourage you to join us. We offer substantive and researched information and advocacy on a variety of topics, including education, health care, workforce development, energy, taxes and fiscal policy, and government accountability and transparency.

We are constantly working to improve the lives of Delawareans, as well as the business and political climate here and to make your government more transparent and responsive to the views of you, the citizens it represents.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

The Board and Staff of A Better Delaware

Delaware Citizens to Become Californians

By: Hon. William L. Witham, Jr., Advisory Board Member, A Better Delaware

It would appear that Delaware is embarking on directly controlling the technological development of transportation for Delaware citizens. We may be faced, if the current Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) plans are adopted to be treated as if we are residents of California without our consent. I will not deal with the obvious legal issues with this concept since the rules in question are not the same ones unveiled for public comment and discussion under the state administrative procedures act. This fact may very well undermine the ability of DNREC to impose the proposed regulations.

DNREC seeks a goal for zero- emission vehicles by 82% by 2035. This is only about 11 years away. The plan is to have car manufacturers sell only emission- free vehicles by this date with only 18% allocated to traditional gas-powered vehicles. This seems to be an impossible task since this will cause an economic upheaval to say the least.

What is remarkable is that DNREC admits that thousands of Delawareans submitted comments, attended public meetings, and responded to polls and the result? The people have spoken – they oppose this radical agenda. Our tone-deaf DNREC bureaucrats say they are doing this for our own good – such hubris and arrogance cannot be ignored.

Increasingly, all Americans are rejecting the aim to electrify transportation, home heating, and all appliances and rely on power mostly generated by wind and solar. We all know for a fact that currently this is not possible without fossil fuels as backup for wind and solar. The most economically emission free fuel is nuclear, but the environmentalists refuse to consider this source. Despite pushing generous subsidies, EVs are piling up on dealer lots. Recently 3,881 car dealers signed a letter pleading with the President to back off on the unrealistic government electric vehicle mandate. Initially, there was great public interest in the new technology of electric vehicles.  They seem to work well for commuter buyers with short distances to travel with easy access to charging in garages overnight or at work with a second car, usually gas-powered for longer trips.

We are now learning of the myriad of problems associated with EVs. They are expensive to build and purchase, thus the governmental subsidies. They have a more limited range and greater weight than cars or trucks. Large trucks would require larger batteries, less space for cargo and go fewer miles, thus increasing the transportation costs for all Americans. Unreliability is a key factor. According to a study by Consumer Reports, many EVs are less reliable than gas or diesel engines or hybrids. They have higher repair costs. A battery replacement can cost over $20,000. They do not do well in accidents. On average, they cost 23% more to insure than gasoline- powered cars and when they catch on fire, it is burn, baby burn! The fires are very difficult to put out.

On average an EV with a sticker price of about $53,000, would cost about $100,000 without government incentives to the purchaser and manufacturer. The main reason you see these vehicles on the road is not because of a generalized consumer choice, but government mandates.

We have not touched upon the economic hardships that dealers, repair shops, supply chains, and trucking industries will face. With an 82% reduction of gas-powered cars by 2035, We do not have the necessary infrastructure to support the effort. Slow and inefficient chargers will not help. We will experience once again, long lines at gas stations in the 70s. The demand on our energy grid will increase and make electricity more expensive.

Automakers are already responding by cutting back on EV production. Ford revealed that its EV division posted a quarterly loss of $1.33 billion and lost $1.08 in the previous quarter. The same for GM. Their losses total $1.5 billion in profits this quarter. These losses will continue so long as our government enforces unsustainable mandates to implement fossil fuel-free or “net Zero energy systems. Delaware has yet to address the significant economic, societal, or environmental consequences of a near-total reliance on renewable energy and the required battery-backup that is necessary to transition to a fossil fuel free future.

Witham is a recently retired Kent County Resident Judge and has served over 40 years in Delaware’s justice system. He is also a former leader in the US Army Reserve and National Guard with 34 years of service.

 

EV MANDATES: NOT JUSTIFIED BY TECHNOLOGY OR REALITY

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. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lack of Freedom Limits Delaware’s Prosperity

 By: Jane Brady, Chair, A Better Delaware

Recently, the Cato Institute did a study on freedom in each of the 50 states, measuring economic freedom and personal freedom indicators. The Cato approach is more to the libertarian view of government intervention, and I part ways on the issues of marijuana and some incarceration policies, but the standard they apply is consistent: less government interference through regulation, taxation, and social policy means more freedom.

The study measured each state on multiple criteria over the period from the year 2000 to 2023. Delaware did not fare well, and ranked, overall, 44 out of 50. Indeed, the report noted that Delaware had an “all around poor performance” on all three dimensions of freedom that were measured.

One measurement of economic freedom was fiscal policy, such as the tax burden on citizens and businesses, how much of the budget the government “consumes” and how large the government workforce is. By their measure, the states with lower taxes and smaller government rank higher, and higher is better. Delaware is at the bottom and ranked 47th out of the 50 states. Our tax burden is high, and our overall tax burden is worse than average, about 12.7% of adjusted personal income. The State of Delaware is our largest employer, and a huge percentage of our budget goes to government programs. In fact, of all the categories, this is Delaware’s worst performance.

The second measurement of economic freedom was regulatory policy, including consideration of such factors as land-use restrictions, healthcare, labor regulations, like occupational licensing requirements, and policies related to the ease of bringing lawsuits. They compare the regulations in the states to the state and federal constitutional guarantees. When the regulations restricted those guarantees the impact of that restriction was weighed as greater than others. Delaware fared a little better in this category coming in at 33 out of 50, giving us an overall economic freedom rating of 42. But the authors noted that much of Delaware’s “touted advantage of corporate laws now is significantly overstated.” Our business climate is not what it once was. And the report noted our certificate of need requirements for health care facilities.

The evaluation of personal freedom included such factors as incarceration rates, gambling freedom, gun rights, tobacco freedom, education choice and marijuana freedom. Delaware ranked number 43 in the area of personal freedom, even with our expansive marijuana, marriage, and abortion laws. That means that a lot of our personal decisions are regulated by the government in Delaware. Our land-use and energy freedom has declined because of an aggressive, renewable portfolio standard.

We are ranked below average on gun rights. Our laws on gambling, and our expanded legal sports betting are rated high. Our civil asset forfeiture law is tied for the worst in the country with few protections for innocent owners of property seized by law enforcement. Everyone should care about these issues. Importantly, fiscal, and regulatory policies affect specific groups, certain types of businesses, or particular types of transactions, but personal freedom measures government intervention that affects every citizen.

A Better Delaware advocates for lower taxes, less regulation, and more open and transparent government. We believe that the gross receipts tax and transfer taxes on real estate transactions should be lower. We believe the obstacles to small businesses forming and thriving should be removed, and we believe that economic prosperity is adversely affected when government is the largest source of employment and contractual work in the state. We believe in school choice, and advocate against a certificate of need requirement.

A Better Delaware also advocates for transparency and accountability in government. While it is important to know the numbers in this report and to identify the issues holding Delawareans back from better economic success, it is critical that you can know the rules by which to seek and implement any change. Government transparency and accountability are essential to assure an informed citizenry and a responsive elected government.

I encourage everyone to read the report and to consider how government intervention has affected your life and work. Then, contact your elected officials and tell them you want more freedom, fewer taxes, and a more open and transparent process in our government so you can know what action is being considered and how you might affect it.

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.

EV BUSES—INVESTOR BEWARE

By: David R. Legates

 In August, Governor Carney signed into law House Bill 10, which “establishes targets for annual purchase of electric school buses through fiscal year 2030.”  Like Delaware’s school bus fleet, many transit agencies are moving to battery-powered buses as a result of the Biden Administration’s goal of having all transit and school buses be zero-emission vehicles by 2030.  So, if you are a venture capitalist, or just a kitchen table trader, maybe you thought that investing in a high-profile electric bus manufacturer might be a good bet.

And a pioneer and leader in the electric bus business, Proterra, might have been an excellent choice.  Proterra has been around for nearly twenty years, and it is so well-connected that the Biden Administration in February appointed Proterra’s CEO to serve on the White House Export Council, the principal national advisory board on international trade.  Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm served on Proterra’s Board of Directors and owned shares of the company even after being confirmed to head the US Department of Energy.  In numerous speeches, the President has praised Proterra as a success story in the green energy movement; to wit, both the Vice President and the Transportation Secretary toured their facility.  Moreover, $5.5 billion was provided by the bipartisan infrastructure law and billions more through other federal grant programs to convert diesel-powered fleets to electric buses.

But hopefully you didn’t buy stock in Proterra because you certainly would have lost your investment.  In August, Proterra filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.  Its stock, which was selling at $7.30 a share in November of last year, is now worth $0.03 a share just a year later — much less than 1% of its peak value.  It had federal funding, it had administration backing, it had state and local legislation on its side.  So, what went horribly wrong?

Proterra noted that “contracts signed in 2021 proved to be priced below where the manufacturing costs were ultimately realized in 2022”. They also argued that transit companies want specialized buses, not simply ones available “off the shelf.” This requires tailoring each order specifically to the consumer which inflates costs.

But the real reason is that their buses have been plagued with problems.  Buses caught on fire or frequently broke down, batteries froze in the cold weather, and the drivetrains had issues pulling a bus load of children up hills.  But the most prevalent issue associated with Proterra’s buses is that when they break down, replacement parts are so difficult to get that the buses sit idle for months at a time.  Not very helpful—and potentially dangerous—when your children are forced to ride in electric buses to get to school.

State Representative Gray noted that two electric buses are required to replace a single diesel bus because it is impossible to recharge the bus from its morning run before the afternoon return run begins.  This would cost Delaware taxpayers an additional $2.6 million during just the first two years of HB10’s implementation.

Delaware’s legislature and the Governor’s Office has pushed electric vehicles as a way to make Delaware’s environment clean and green.  Although touted as being “clean and green,” electric vehicles aren’t. The process to mine the rare earth elements that are needed for the batteries creates copious amounts of toxic waste, destroys land and ecosystems through surface mining where vast amounts of rock and soil are removed, and utilizes child and slave labor in poor areas such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and southeast Asia.

Proterra joins Solyndra, A123, Pink Energy (Power Home Solar), and Lordstown Motors (an EV truck manufacturer) on the ever-growing list of high-profile, federally backed companies that have wasted taxpayer money and gone the way of the dinosaur.  Our Delaware state legislature must learn that the free market is better at selecting true winners than a legislator or bureaucrat throwing away our hard-earned tax money by investing in these fly-by-night schemes.

David Legates is a retired tenured professor of climatology, geography, and spatial sciences in the Department of Geography at the University of Delaware and a retired adjunct professor in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics. Currently Legates serves on the Advisory Board for A Better Delaware.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Consequences of Banning Greenhouse Gases

 By David R. Legates        

You have often heard: “As greenhouse gas emissions from human activities increase, they build up in the atmosphere and warm the climate, leading to many other changes around the world.”  We are told these consequences always will be devastating and, of course, they will become worse if we don’t take draconian efforts to stop the emission of greenhouse gases now.

This last session, the Delaware legislature passed, and Governor Carney signed into law House Bill 99.  Known as the Delaware Climate Change Solutions Act of 2023, the law implements Delaware’s Climate Action Plan to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions to 50% by 2030 and to 0% by 2050.  State agencies must “consider climate change in decision-making, rulemaking, and procurement,” which puts the decisions into the hands of state bureaucrats.

Greenhouse gases are called “trace gases” for a reason—they make up very little of the dry atmosphere by volume.  The three gases targeted by House Bill 99 are carbon dioxide (0.04%), methane (0.00019%), and nitrous oxide (0.00000015%).  Together, these three molecules comprise so little of our atmosphere that in a stadium of 100,000 people, the composition of these three molecules in the atmosphere would be the equivalent of just 40 people.

Moreover, these gases are not pollutants; in fact, an increase in carbon dioxide has been a huge benefit to the entire planet.  Over the last forty years, the majority of the planet has greened significantly.  Simply put, carbon dioxide is plant food—commercial greenhouses increase carbon dioxide concentrations by a factor of about four to enhance plant growth as plants grow faster under higher carbon dioxide concentrations.  In addition, plants use water more efficiently when carbon dioxide concentrations are higher.

But the Delaware General Assembly has labeled these gases as pollutants and has prescribed that we take draconian steps to curb their production. The electric vehicle mandate prescribes that we reduce the number of gasoline and diesel automobiles sent to dealers to zero by 2035.  House Bill 10 requires the phase in of electric school buses, House Bill 11 demands new commercial buildings be able to support rooftop solar panels, and House Bill 12 incentivizes the purchase and lease of electric vehicles through a rebate program.  Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 103 calls for all newly constructed single- and multi-family residences in the State to include electric vehicle charging infrastructure.  All these bills are now the law in Delaware forcing Delawareans to solely rely on wind and solar energy. At the same time, Delaware’s Federal delegation and the Biden administration are pushing for restrictions to the production of NMP, (N-Methyl pyrrolidone) which is an essential processing aid for lithium batteries that are key to energy storage and electrification storage. Without batteries to store this energy, our houses go dark and cold when the wind stops blowing and the sun stops shining.

So, why demonize fuels that have made energy inexpensive and have led nearly seven billion people out of poverty?  As a climatologist, I can tell you that our climate is not becoming more deadly or more extreme because of increases in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.  For this small fraction of gases, we are proposing to devastate our economy, send billions of people to live below the poverty level, and destroy our way of life. What are we thinking?

David Legates is a retired tenured professor of climatology, geography, and spatial sciences in the Department of Geography at the University of Delaware and a retired adjunct professor in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics.

 

 

 

Why Hydrogen in Natural Gas Pipelines Makes No Sense, Particularly in Delaware

By: Lindsay Leveen

Okay, you are going to need to recall a little science for this one! Remember electrons? They are the little electrified bits of energy that circle the nucleus (center) of an atom. Atoms make up the elements of gas, liquid, and solids (for real geeks, the Periodic Chart may come to mind!)

Why do we need to revisit science class? Well, there is an effort to retrieve electrons from atoms of Hydrogen gas and add them to natural gas to make a “greener” supply of energy.  Delaware is among the seven states in the US which were awarded federal support to develop a “hydrogen hub”, which Delaware will share with New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Several companies with ties to Delaware, including Bloom Energy and Air Liquide are involved in the effort.

The project has identified three classifications of hydrogen electrons they will seek to isolate: pink, which will be sourced from the nuclear power plant in New Jersey; green, which will use wind and solar sources from the three states; and orange, which will be retrieved by injecting water into deep hot iron formations in the earth.

There are significant issues that prevent this from making any practical sense at all. First, the plan is to use the existing pipelines for natural gas. The existing metal composition of the steel natural gas pipelines is incompatible with hydrogen, which will permeate the metal and cause the steel to become brittle, and which will, ultimately, cause the pipelines to rupture.  Replacing the pipelines has been deemed to be too expensive and, therefore, to preserve the pipes for use, only a small fraction of hydrogen will be added to the natural gas. That could be as little as only 1%.

And the use of the “clean” electrons is somewhat limited.  Using electrons in water electrolyzers loses half of the energy within the incoming electrons.  While some companies, including Bloom, claim 85% efficiency, they do not account for the energy lost in the steam nor the energy needed to compress and dry the hydrogen to make it useful.  Wet electrolyzers, such as those utilized by Bloom, produce wet hydrogen, at low pressure. This hydrogen is useless in that state. Any value in hydrogen is after it has been dried and compressed.

In this area of the country, the best return is to use these electrons for two things.  The first is for heat pumps.  Electric heat pumps gain energy from the surroundings and multiply the kilowatt hours of useful warming heat delivered.  This area of the country is ideal for heat pumps as the winters are not too severe.

The second, although not ideal, is electric vehicles.  The compressed hydrogen in the proposed hub will be used in part to power buses in Philadelphia.  However, these expensive hydrogen fuel cell buses are only 50% efficient.  Using renewable clean electrons for hydrogen manufacture, and then to fuel buses, yields only 25% of the electrons giving a return on the effort, that is, actually propelling the wheels.  It is less expensive to buy battery powered electric buses, as the return on those yields 90% of the electrons propelling the wheels.

But none of this really makes practical sense. Hydrogen only has a third of the energy per unit volume as natural gas, based on the higher heating value of natural gas.  Clients in the US who use natural gas are already overpaying by some 10%, since the real heating value of natural gas is approximately 90% of the higher heating value used to bill customers.  Hydrogen billing will be even more unfair to gas consumers, as the lower heating value of hydrogen is only 80% of the higher heating value that consumers will be charged.

The cost to provide a minuscule amount of hydrogen into natural gas to, in effect, pretend is it “greener” than simply using natural gas, is not justified.  The increased costs to customers are not providing a better service or product. The federal government’s support of this project will cease, and it will not be cost-effective for private industry to continue to provide hydrogen injected gas.  Consumers should object to these projects now, before we spend more money on a useless effort with no return to the consumer.

Lindsay Leveen has more than 40 years of experience in chemical engineering and executive management in high value-added process industries that extract value out of processes that transform chemicals, energy, labor, and capital into products that society needs and consumers will buy. He has consulted and worked in the areas of energy deregulation, alternative energy generation, traditional energy generation, power transmission and distribution, power quality and reliability systems, and on hydrogen and sustainability Lindsay received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and an MBA from University of Witwatersrand, S. Africa and a M.S. in Chemical Engineering from Iowa State .His book on the hope and hype of hydrogen is translated into Japanese and is used in Japan as a university text for students of energy policy and sustainability. In 2011, the Northern California Chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) gave Mr. Leveen their Professional Development award for his lifetime of work in the field of chemical engineering.