Why Wilmington’s Climate Change Plan is Bad for the City – Part I
From: Kathleen Rutherford, Executive Director, A Better Delaware
WILMINGTON, Del.-Recently, the City of Wilmington and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) announced the release of a report on how Wilmington will prepare for tomorrow’s climate risks. This follows several years after DNREC issued a similar report for the State.
The report focuses on how Wilmington will experience resilient economic growth through the development of innovative green solutions, update the City’s transportation system to be more environmentally friendly, and protect the City’s infrastructure and connect residents to resources that will protect them from climate change. This plan is bad for the City of Wilmington owing to a number of reasons.
First, Wilmington has many other issues that are more pressing than climate change. When adjusted for technological developments, we have experienced no significant increase in the events that kill the most people and adversely affect our lives—heat waves, cold spells, floods, droughts, hurricanes, and tornadoes, for example. Changes in land use and a rising population, rather than increases in greenhouse gases, are most responsible for the occurrence of heat waves, floods, and droughts in Delaware.
The biggest climate-related scare posed by this report is sea level rise. While sea level is indeed rising, it is rising for two primary reasons, neither of which are related to greenhouse gases. Globally, sea level has been rising at a relatively constant rate of about 7 inches per century, with no observed increase due to carbon dioxide.
Indeed, we are still emerging from the last Ice Age and sea levels will continue to rise until virtually all of the polar ice caps are melted—or until we descend into another Ice Age. But Delaware lies at the margin of the Laurentide Ice Sheet, which reached its maximum extent 21,000 years ago. Isostacy caused the Earth’s crust to depress beneath the ice and to rise at the perimeter of the ice sheet during the glacial period. Now that we are in an interglacial period, the station at Reedy Point is descending at a rate faster than anywhere on the East Coast. Thus, rising sea levels in Delaware are due to melting ice from the demise of the last Ice Age and from isostacy due to the loss of the ice sheet—not from increasing greenhouse gases.
Moreover, Delaware is down more than 50% in per capita carbon dioxide emission over the last half century and is the fourth lowest state in carbon dioxide emissions overall. Thomas Wigley, an alarmist scientist from the US National Center for Atmospheric Research, argued that if every nation on the planet followed the Kyoto Protocol, the global change in temperature would be only 0.13°F by 2050. This would come at enormous cost but would be undetectable. Thus, the impact of Delaware reducing its carbon footprint further would be all cost and no benefit.
But the “green remedy” to climate change in Delaware is potentially more disastrous than the supposed effects of climate change. The proposal will make energy more expensive (so people will use less of it) and develops technology such as wind- and solar-energy programs and electric vehicles, all of which are still experimental. Someone has to pay for this expensive technology because this so-called “renewable” energy either causes utility bills to rise drastically, or, with government subsidies, taxes rise drastically. Businesses will suffer harm because the added cost of energy is a business expense that would either be (1) passed on to the consumer or (2) alleviated by moving to another state or country (if they can) which will cost Delaware jobs.
It is always suggested that the ‘green revolution’ will create jobs; in fact, it never does. Bloom Energy was sold to the State legislature because it would create 900 jobs (a pittance, compared to the jobs lost by the exit of Chrysler and GM) but it has never created as many as 400, despite the cost of more than $325M to Delmarva Power ratepayers and a total take of almost $500M by Bloom Energy. Consider Spain, where the concept of green energy has failed miserably. After spending more than 100B€ in subsidies, their power is inconsistent at best and must be matched by energy from fossil fuel sources to keep from experiencing blackouts. The price for energy has spiraled out of control as it has more than doubled in just the last year.
Furthermore, the argument that wind and solar can meet our energy needs would “require an outsized amount of land or offshore areas for wind and solar farms.” Efforts in Delaware are pushing the legislature to approve wind turbines off the coast of Bethany Beach (which require a significant right-of-way to connect the energy to the grid) and an extensive buyout of farmland in Kent and Sussex counties is underway to install large arrays of solar panels. We are trading food for energy and consequently, the cost of both will skyrocket. Delaware is poised to become the next Spain, with respect to energy.
One of the most devastating “solutions” proposed by proponents is to have the State legislature limit utility increases. Price controls always result in scarcity because if we force a business to charge less than the cost of manufacturing plus a reasonable profit, they won’t produce. Green energy is an expensive proposition and can be facilitated only by large subsidies. But what is forgotten in this discussion is that wind and solar are not dispatchable and require backup energy (usually from fossil fuels) when the wind stops blowing and the sun stops shining. Delaware presently pays $100M per year to keep the coal-fired power plant in Millsboro available to cover for the intermittency of wind and solar energy. In 2021, the plant was dispatched for only 20 hours. The additional expense (over that returned by selling the electricity) is paid by Delaware’s energy ratepayers.
The reliance on these intermittent energy sources to run our grid makes energy more expensive, less dependable, and will hurt beach towns, small coastal municipalities, restaurants, hotels and all other businesses and citizens who need to use energy. So, if the plans set forth by Resilient Wilmington and the State of Delaware to address the impacts of sea level rise by focusing on limiting carbon dioxide emissions is scientifically useless and bad environmental policy, what should our coastal communities be doing? Stay tuned for Part II to find out!