The House passed legislation Tuesday that would set one of the most ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets in the nation for the lowest-lying state in the continental United States. House Bill 99 would set net emissions reduction targets of 50% from the 2005 baseline by 2030 and a 100% net reduction by 2050.
The vote was 27-13-1, with every Democrat except Rae Moore (who was absent) voting in favor, and all but two Republicans (Michael Smith and Kevin Hensely) voting against. Smith and Hensley voting yes is smart politics for them in their more liberal districts.
An “friendly” Amendment was passed by voice vote during the debate on the bill, and my cursory review of it finds no poison pills that would sabotage the bill. The Delaware Chamber of Commerce announced last week that they were working with “stakeholders” to propose such a poison pill amendment, but I don’t see how the Amendment 1 fits that bill. I will wait for more knowledgeable people to let me know if I am wrong.
The Delaware Climate Solutions Act would codify a planning process to guide the state to meet those goals and require the state to draft and implement a climate action plan that would serve as a framework to guide state agencies to meet these goals. The plan would be updated every five years to ensure the best and newest practices are being implemented.
Under HB 99, key cabinet-level departments – such as Natural Resources, Transportation, Agriculture, Health and Social Services and others – would appoint climate officers to work with a chief climate officer to update and implement the climate action plan. Reduction strategies would be required to be equitable, complement federal efforts, maintain an adequate and reliable energy supply for Delaware, and not disproportionately impact overburdened and underserved communities.
The bill also requires at least one annual public meeting to allow for opportunities for public engagement in the development of the plan.
A 2014 Delaware Climate Change Impact Assessment examined past and projected future climate trends in Delaware. The report detailed how average and extreme temperatures, extreme rainfall and sea level rise are expected to accelerate in the First State as this century wears on, and the public health and infrastructure challenges these situations will create.
According to HB 99, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control would provide a climate action plan implementation report starting on January 1, 2024 and every two years thereafter. The report would summarize the state’s progress toward meeting targets.
The climate action plan itself would be updated by November 2025 and every five years thereafter.
HB 99, which passed the House 27-13, now goes to the Senate for consideration.
|HOUSE BILL 99 – CLIMATE SOLUTIONS ACT||Currrent Status – House Passed 27-13-1. Sent to the Senate|
|House Sponsors – Heffernan, Phillips ,Griffith, Johnson, Lambert, Longhurst, Moore, Wilson-Anton, Baumbach, Chukwuocha, Cooke, Dorsey Walker, Harris, Lynn, Minor-Brown, Morrison, Neal, Parker Selby, Romer, Schwartzkopf, Williams||Senate Sponsors – Hansen, Townsend, Gay, Hoffner, Huxtable, McBride, Sokola, Sturgeon|
|House Yes Votes – Baumbach Bolden Bush Carson Chukwuocha Cooke Dorsey-Walker Griffith Harris Heffernan Johnson Lambert Longhurst Lynn Matthews Minor-Brown Morrison Neal Osienski Parker-Selby Phillips Romer Schwartzkopf Williams Wilson-Anton // Hensley, Smith||Senate Yes Votes –|
|House No Votes – Briggs King Collins Dukes Gray Hilovsky Morris Postles Ramone Short Shupe Spiegelman Vanderwende Yearick||Senate No Votes –|
|House Absents or Not Voting – Moore||Senate Absent or Not Voting –|
“We are in the throes of a climate crisis that is impacting every aspect of our daily lives. Roads that never flooded before are underwater after even a moderate storm. Significant weather events are more frequent. Climate scientists have been ringing the alarm for years now, and we have to take action if we want to preserve our environment and way of life,” said Rep. Debra Heffernan, D-Brandywine Hundred South. “HB 99 sets aggressive, but attainable, reduction targets for Delaware, cutting our net greenhouse gas emissions during the next 25-plus years until we reach net zero emissions in 2050.
“Doing this will remove harmful emissions from our atmosphere, which not only will benefit our environment and planet, but individual health as well. We must fight to ensure a healthier and cleaner future for Delaware. I’m grateful to my colleagues for their support of this bold step forward.”
“As a wildlife ecologist, I’ve seen firsthand the impacts of climate change on animals and nature as a whole. As a young person who is deeply concerned about the future of our planet, I know that we can no longer wait for those at the national level to address this crisis; we have to take action here in Delaware,” said Rep. Sophie Phillips. “This bill has been the work of months of countless meetings and conversations with stakeholders to strike a balance while making serious leaps forward for our ecosystem.”
“Just as greenhouse gases pose a threat to our entire state by contributing to rising sea levels, increased droughts and forest fires, and worsening air quality, it’s going to take a whole-of-government approach to reverse the long-term harm we are causing to our planet,” said Sen. Stephanie Hansen, chair of the Senate Environment, Energy & Transportation Committee and the Senate prime sponsor of HB 99.
“I want to thank my colleagues in the House for voting today to adopt aggressive, yet attainable, targets for some of our largest state departments and agencies to reach zero net emissions in just a few short decades,” she said. “I look forward to the Senate passing the Climate Solutions Act this month and getting this critical environmental legislation to Governor John Carney for his signature.”