Governor Carney Signs Three Environmental Bills

Legislation encourages adoption of solar power and electric vehicles, curbing balloon releases

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Friday joined members of the General Assembly and environmental advocates at a Wilmington-based solar array to sign three environmentally focused bills that will help expand the use of renewable energy, reduce carbon emissions, and protect Delaware’s fragile ecosystems from the harmful effects of plastic waste.

“It takes all of us working together to address the existential threat of climate change in our communities,” said Governor John Carney. “It is my pleasure to finish the great work of Senator Stephanie Hansen, members of the General Assembly and advocates across the state, and sign these important pieces of legislation to protect our state’s environment for future generations.”

 
All three bills signed Friday were sponsored by Senator Stephanie Hansen, who chairs the Senate Environment & Energy Committee.

“These measures – along with the updated Renewable Portfolio Standards signed by the governor in February – mark significant steps forward in Delaware’s energy policies and our stewardship of the natural environment,” said Senator Stephanie Hansen. “None of these bills would have been possible without input from dozens of environmentalists, community groups, businesses and advocates who were willing to put aside their differences to help forge policies that will lead to a healthier, cleaner and more sustainable Delaware.”

Governor Carney stands behind a podium at a bill signing ceremony event located at a solar array in Wilmington.Signed at the site of a 2-megawatt solar array near the confluence of the Brandywine Creek and Christina River owned by Soltage LLC, Senate Bill 2 is designed to accelerate the adoption of community-based photovoltaic systems in Delaware.

The legislation creates a legal framework that will allow residents to enjoy the cost savings and low-carbon footprint of solar power without needing to install photovoltaic panels on their own properties. Instead, neighbors and community groups can receive a credit on their electric bill by subscribing to a centrally located community solar project, which can now be developed under a variety of ownership, management, and contract models.

Delaware law has allowed for community-owned solar generation facilities since 2010, when the shared solar concept was still being tested throughout most of the country. Today, at least 40 states and the District of Columbia host at least one community solar project with most located in Maine, Minnesota, New York and Colorado.

Under a regulatory process implemented by the Public Service Commission with consumer protections provided by the Delaware Department of Justice, SB 2 requires all community solar projects in Delaware to serve a diverse customer base that includes low-income and middle-class households — an environmental justice component that will ensure solar energy is available to all Delawareans.

“The Public Service Commission looks forward to working with stakeholders on community solar certification requirements and important customer protections which will allow more Delawareans to participate in this exciting, fast growing market,” said Matt Hartigan, Director of the Public Service Commission.

“Senate Bill 2 addresses barriers to community solar development in our state,” said Drew Slater, Public Advocate. “This legislation was a collaborative approach with many stakeholders and through forums held by Senator Hansen. It is a testament to everyone’s hard work that this legislation received overwhelming support from the General Assembly and is enacted into law by Governor Carney this afternoon.”

“Soltage is excited to see Senate Bill 2 passed today, as we know first-hand the impact it will have on Delaware’s solar economy and community solar buyers,” said Soltage CEO and Co-Founder, Jesse Grossman. “This type of legislation is key for opening up clean energy markets, driving economic growth and job creation in the state, and ultimately, helping the country achieve the decarbonization needed to avoid the worst effects of the climate crisis.”

Governor Carney on Friday also signed Senate Bill 21, an amendment to the Delaware Energy Act that encourages the adoption of electric vehicles by creating a more accessible charging-station infrastructure in the First State. The legislation specifically allows state agencies to charge employees and the public a fee for the use of charging stations on state property so long as those fees do not exceed the agency’s cost.

Finally, Governor Carney signed Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 24, legislation that makes it unlawful to intentionally release balloons filled with air or lighter-than-air gases. Releasing four balloons or fewer is considered littering and a first offense is punishable by a fine of at least $25. A mass release of five or more balloons carries a civil penalty of $250 and up to eight hours of community service on first offense.

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The Delaware Bayshore Byway National Scenic Byway Designation Sign Unveiling

As part of this week’s Earth Day celebration, the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT), the Delaware Tourism Office, Delaware Greenways, and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) are excited to announce the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has designated the Delaware Bayshore Byway as a National Scenic Byway.

Governor John Carney, DelDOT Secretary Nicole Majeski, DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin, Director of the Delaware Tourism Office Liz Keller and representatives from Delaware Greenways and tourism groups celebrated the designation with a gathering today to unveil a special sign recognizing the Byway as a National Scenic Byway at the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve’s St. Jones Reserve in Dover.

The FHWA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation, approved 49 new designations to the America’s Byways® collection, including the Delaware Bayshore Byway. In total, 15 new All-American Roads and 34 new National Scenic Byways in 28 states were accepted into the National Scenic Byways Program.

“Delaware’s Bayshore Byway encompasses so much of our state’s unique natural and cultural heritage,” said Governor John Carney. “We are proud to announce on Earth Day this national recognition of its beauty and importance, and we look forward to drawing new visitors to discover its uniquely all-American, all-natural waterways, landscapes and towns.”

Delaware Department of Transportation Secretary of Transportation Nicole Majeski added, “This designation is quite an honor. There is so much to experience when traveling this scenic route. Whether you’re a history lover, wildlife enthusiast or perhaps you just want to slow down and enjoy the view, enrich your next trip by taking the Delaware Bayshore Byway. You won’t be disappointed.”

“DNREC’s Delaware Bayshore Initiative runs the coastline from New Castle to Lewes and has laid a foundation to focus our efforts on conservation and preservation, provide recreational and educational opportunities, and support Bayshore communities,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “This new designation builds on and broadens our commitment to care for and share Delaware’s wild side with residents and visitors of today and tomorrow.”

The Delaware Bayshore Byway, now a National Scenic Byway, is a series of two-lane roads that travel along the Delaware River and Bay Estuary. From New Castle to Lewes, the byway corridor with 19 Discovery Zones offers visitors and locals an intimate experience featuring coastal marshlands, abundant wildlife, rich hunting, fishing, and farming heritage and historic river and bay towns and communities.

While traveling this 157-mile route spanning 100 miles of the Delaware coastline, the Delaware Bayshore Byway provides a connection to all that is Delaware: history, wild open space, horseshoe crabs and shorebirds, fresh and saltwater marshes, small communities, fishing villages and large farms, coastal rivers, the bay and its beaches, lighthouses and dark skies, historic mansions and migrant shacks, and waterfowl and watermen.

“The Delaware Bayshore is a special place that must be preserved for its world class birding and unique coastal marshes that benefits both Delaware residents and visitors,” said U.S. Senator Tom Carper. “The Delaware Bayshore is a treasure of national and global significance; recognition of the Byway at the federal level is an honor the area richly deserves.”

U.S. Senator Chris Coons said, “Delaware’s Bayshore Byway is a treasure and one of the most beautiful roads in the busy and populated Mid-Atlantic, some lucky few from outside of Delaware already know about the corridor as the best way to get to the beach or to visit one of our many small coastal towns.”

“Delaware’s Bayshore Byway is a Delaware treasure, encompassing so much of our rich history, culture, and, of course, Delaware’s natural scenery,” added Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester. “The byway has so much to offer as it runs through all three counties with incredible Discovery Zones along the way. I was pleased to hear about its new designation as a National Scenic Byway and hope that it brings new visitors to see the wonders of our state.”

“Outdoor activities are among the most popular reasons more than 9.2 million people visit Delaware each year,” said Liz Keller, director of the Delaware Tourism Office. “Whether it’s world-class birding at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge or the quiet beauty of southern Delaware, the Delaware Bayshore Byway is an ideal way for visitors and residents to explore Delaware’s natural wonders.”

Must-see destinations along the Bayshore Byway:
• Historic City of New Castle
• First State National Historical Park
• New Castle Court House Museum
• George Read II House and Gardens
• Historic Delaware City
• Fort Delaware, Pea Patch Island
• Chesapeake & Delaware Canal Area
• Thousand Acre Marsh
• Augustine Wildlife Area
• Port Penn Interpretive Center
• Historic Town of Odessa
• Cedar Swamp Wildlife Area
• Blackbird Creek Reserve
• Woodland Beach Wildlife Area
• DE Aquatic Resources Education Center
• Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge
• Town of Leipsic
• Town of Little Creek
• Community of Pickering Beach
• Air Mobility Command Museum
• Community of Pickering Beach
• John Dickinson Plantation
• St. Jones Reserve
• Community of Kitts Hummock
• Historic Town of Bowers Beach
• Bowers Beach Maritime Museum
• Historic Town of Magnolia
• Historic Town of Frederica
• Community of South Bowers
• Milford Neck Wildlife Area
• Milford Historic District and Riverwalk
• DuPont Nature Center at Mispillion Harbor
• Town of Slaughter Beach
• Marvel Salt Marsh Preserve
• Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge
• Community of Broadkill Beach
• Historic Town of Milton
• Historic Lewes Byway: Gateway to the Bayshore

“Delaware Greenways on behalf of DelDOT, the Delaware Tourism Office and DNREC would like to thank the Byway Management Team for their hard work, dedication and for their input during the completion of the Corridor Management Plan Update 2020 and National Scenic Byway application,” said Chair of the Byway Management Team Steve Borleske.

Discover more about the Delaware Bayshore Byway, other Delaware Byways and the Corridor Management Plan at DelDOT.gov. Encounter more adventures throughout the state at visitdelaware.com.

For more information on how Delaware Greenways is linking and building communities while winding through some of the most beautiful scenery in the state, visit delawaregreenways.org.

To learn more about DNREC’s work to preserve our outdoor heritage and open spaces, visit dnrec.de.gov/bayshore.

For a list of all the 2021 Designations to America’s Byways® visit the FHWA’s National Scenic Byways Program website.


Governor Carney Signs Legislation Raising Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS)

Legislation sets target of 40 percent renewable energy by 2035

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Wednesday signed Senate Bill 33, raising Delaware’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to 40 percent by 2035. 

Click here to watch the virtual bill signing.

The legislation – sponsored by Senator Stephanie Hansen and Representative Ed Osienski – will raise the percentage of Delaware’s energy that must come from renewable sources through 2035 and help confront the impacts of climate change. Increasing the Renewable Portfolio Standard also was a longtime priority of former Senator Harris McDowell

“Delaware is the country’s lowest-lying state, and climate change is already having a very real impact,” said Governor Carney. “This legislation will help accelerate Delaware’s transition to renewable sources of energy, which is good for our economy and our environment, and I’m pleased to sign it into law.”

“Extending and updating the Renewable Portfolio Standard involves a few complicated mechanisms but one simple idea: the energy future in front of us looks very different from the energy past that got us here,” said Senator Hansen, D-Middletown. “By encouraging greater use of renewable energy sources, we can simultaneously stimulate innovation, encourage job growth, push for cleaner air, and find new ways to lower energy bills for Delawareans. That’s reason to celebrate and to keep pushing for progress. I’m proud to have sponsored this bill, building off the work of Sen. Harris McDowell, and I thank the governor for signing it today.”

“Companies’ practices have taken a heavy toll on our environment for far too long. Especially here in low-lying Delaware, where sea level rise is a top concern, it’s critical we take action to protect our natural resources and prevent further ecological damage,” said Representative Osienski, D-Brookside. “Renewable energy portfolio standards have proven to be an effective solution to transitioning away from harmful fossil fuels toward clean, green energy like solar, wind and geothermal. Because we’re on-target to hit 25% by 2025, it makes good sense to establish new goals for our RPS program.” 

“Promoting the use of renewable energy is essential for continuing progress on meeting our targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which are driving the climate change impacts we are already experiencing in Delaware, including sea level rise, increased temperatures and more frequent and intense storms, droughts and flooding,” said Shawn Garvin, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC).  

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Governor Carney, Legislators Announce Major Investments in Clean Water

DOVER, Del. – Governor John Carney, House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst and Senate President Pro Tempore David McBride joined advocates and members of the General Assembly on Tuesday to announce significant new investments in clean water across Delaware.

The Clean Water for Delaware Act — sponsored by Representative Longhurst and Senator McBride — will create a Delaware Clean Water Trust to help rebuild Delaware’s drinking water infrastructure, prevent flooding in vulnerable communities, and keep contamination out of our waterways.

The Trust will be initially funded with $50 million in Governor Carney’s proposed Fiscal Year 2021 budget. Governor Carney will release his budget proposal on Thursday, January 30, at the Delaware Public Archives.

“From the Brandywine Creek to the Inland Bays, we have special natural places in our state. Water is Delaware’s most basic and valuable resource, and we should protect that resource for future generations,” said Governor Carney. “We also need to make sure that all Delaware families have access to clean drinking water. Delawareans deserve clean water. It’s as simple as that.”

“This is a monumental piece of legislation for Delaware that impacts a resource we simply cannot live without: water. The time to protect our waterways, support our stormwater systems and ensure clean, healthy drinking water to our residents is now,” said House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, chief sponsor of the Clean Water for Delaware Act. “I’ve traveled up and down the state talking to Delawareans about how we need to protect our natural resources. This is an issue of environmental justice. Clean drinking water, safe waterways, updated infrastructure and adequate wastewater treatment are not luxuries; they are necessities. What we are doing today is taking a huge step forward toward securing our future and ensuring that our children and grandchildren have those necessities of life.”

“No community in Delaware should live in fear of polluted water and failing wastewater systems,” said Senate President Pro Tempore David McBride. “Yet across our great state, hundreds of our residents must be leery of the water they drink and the fish they catch. As we enter our third straight year of surpluses, the time has come to take action. I want to thank Governor John Carney for working with the General Assembly to find the revenue we need to begin addressing this problem today. Our vulnerable communities simply cannot wait any longer.”

“I want to commend Governor John Carney for taking this critical step to secure our public health, our environment, our economy, and our way of life,” said Senator Bryan Townsend. “Today, a large number of Delaware’s waterways have become polluted, whole communities cannot drink their tap water, and the majority of wastewater infrastructure desperately needs to be replaced. This funding is a step in the right direction.”

The Clean Water for Delaware Act will require an annual strategic planning process, and will place a new emphasis on infrastructure projects in low-income, underserved communities. In the first year, $50 million in state funding will leverage significant federal investment in Delaware’s water quality.  

“Ninety percent of Delaware’s waterways are polluted or impaired. Nearly five years ago Delaware Nature Society founded the Clean Water Campaign as a statewide coalition to secure funding to improve Delaware’s water quality. The coalition and our Water Warriors have been with us every step of the way. This new proposal is a giant step toward clean water in Delaware,” said Anne Harper, Executive Director of the Delaware Nature Society. “Clean water is critical to Delaware’s economy, environment, wildlife, food supply and public health.  We look forward to working with Governor Carney, Rep. Longhurst, Senator McBride, Senator Townsend, the General Assembly and our Water Warrior volunteers to secure the proposed $50 million in clean water funding.”

“Economic development starts with infrastructure investment,” said Dave DuPlessis, President of the American Council of Engineering Companies-Delaware. “Clean water and sustainable water infrastructure is often taken for granted and the cost of service is frequently underestimated.  We are grateful that the Governor and leaders of the General Assembly recognize the value of this investment to our quality of life and the economy. Thank you to Governor Carney, Rep. Longhurst and Sen. McBride for creating a program that makes Delaware cleaner and safer while adding much needed infrastructure to our state which will have positive impacts on our economy for years to come.”

“The Delaware Rural Water Association is a nonprofit trade association that works with every water and wastewater facility in the State of Delaware in maintaining compliance,” said Rick Duncan, Executive Director of the Delaware Rural Water Association. “Having this type of resource of funding will play a vital role in our small community water systems that are having difficulty seeking those funds to support infrastructure needs and maintain compliance.”

Dian Taylor, CEO and President of Artesian Water Company said “Artesian supports the Governor’s Clean Water initiative. It has been our commitment for over the last hundred years and we adamantly believe that everyone has the right to clean safe drinking water. We commend the Governor’s efforts to protect our State’s most essential resource.”

 

“PDE is excited about Governor Carney’s proposed Clean Water Trust initiative that will provide new resources to improve and protect Delaware’s precious water resources,” said Kathy Klein, Executive Director of the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary. “Strategic use of this funding will help to address long standing challenges and implement clean water goals and strategies in the Delaware Estuary Program’s Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan.” 

“As a global leader in the provision of environmental services, SUEZ supports this effort to protect our most precious natural resource, clean water,” said Larry Finnicum, Director of SUEZ Delaware Operations.

“Clean water is essential now and for future generations, and we commend Governor Carney and our state legislators who have committed to make water quality a top priority in 2020,” said Sherri Evans-Stanton, Director of the Delaware Chapter of the Sierra Club.  “Our residents, visitors and businesses deserve safe drinking water and the Governor’s pledge to dedicate $50 million in funds will provide momentum to address Delaware’s clean water efforts. Given the degree to which our state economy, from agriculture to tourism, depends on clean water it is imperative to keep moving forward.  Most of all, we want to thank Governor Carney for his leadership to assist communities that often lack funding necessary to clean up their water.”

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Governor Carney and 14 Governors Urge Congress to Act on Harmful PFAS

Letter expresses need to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney and the Governors of Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin issued a letter to the leadership of both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees urging them to include provisions for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act to protect citizens who would be affected by these substances.

Read the letter here:

Dear Chairman Inhofe, Ranking Member Reed, Chairman Smith and Ranking Member Thornberry:

As you instruct your conferees to consider the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), we, the undersigned governors, would like to highlight several key provisions related to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and urge you to include them in the final legislation.

PFAS are used in many nonstick coatings in consumer products, industrial processes, and firefighting foams often used by the military and at airports. These chemicals, which break down extremely slowly or not at all, can accumulate in our environment and in our bodies, and those that have been studied are associated with adverse health effects, such as liver damage, thyroid disease, and kidney and testicular cancers. Provisions in the current House and Senate measures will ensure the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) mitigates the impacts of PFAS contamination, require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to move more quickly to set PFAS health standards and protections, and provide much-needed resources and guidance as the federal government, states, and communities work to address contamination from these persistent substances.

At current and former military bases across the country, firefighting foam containing PFAS has been in use for many years to meet FAA firefighting standards at FAA controlled airports, and by extension at military airports. In many of these locations, PFAS have leached into groundwater, surface water, and nearby private wells used for drinking water. According to the Government Accountability Office, there are at least 401 military sites with known or suspected PFAS contamination.

As governors, we are evaluating responses appropriate for our states, including in some cases developing or setting drinking water standards for PFAS, and deploying state funds to test, investigate, and remediate PFAS contamination caused by government and industrial uses. Nevertheless, federal action is needed to address PFAS, including contamination in and around military sites.

Our Congressional delegations have worked diligently to include important provisions in the House and Senate bills to require the DoD and EPA to investigate, monitor and clean up PFAS contamination originating from DoD activities. It is clear that many members of Congress on both sides of the aisle understand the urgent need to act to address these toxic PFAS chemicals. As governors whose residents are affected by these toxics, we urge development of a package that includes the strongest provisions from both the House and Senate bills, including the following that would:

  • Require EPA to set an enforceable, nationwide drinking water standard under the Safe Drinking Water Act for PFOA and PFOS within two years of enactment, while preserving states’ authority to enact their own, more stringent standards.
  • Require the EPA to list PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) within one year.
  • Require the EPA to revise the list of toxic pollutants under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (commonly known as the Clean Water Act) to include PFAS and publish effluent and pretreatment standards.
  • Phase out the use of PFAS in aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) as quickly as possible.
  • Urge the DoD to finalize cooperative agreements with states and partner with governors to test, monitor, remove, and remediate PFAS contamination originating from DoD activities, including at decommissioned military installations and National Guard facilities. Require that if a cooperative agreement is not reached within one year of the request from a state, the Secretary of Defense must report to Congress with an explanation of why an agreement has not been reached. Remediation should satisfy both federal and state/local remediation targets.
  • Grant the National Guard Bureau access to specific environmental remediation program funding in FY 2020.
  • Authorize the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to develop advanced testing methods capable of detecting PFAS, and to conduct nationwide sampling for these chemicals – focusing first on areas near drinking water with known or suspected PFAS contamination.
  • Require the DoD to treat and clean PFAS-contaminated water used for agricultural purposes.
  • Require public disclosure, as part of Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) annual reports, when environmental releases of about 200 PFAS chemicals occur – including PFOS and PFOA.

The FY2020 NDAA presents an opportunity to take historic steps forward to address PFAS contamination that is harming our states, and we ask you to include the strongest PFAS-related provisions in the final bill.

Sincerely,

Governor Gretchen Whitmer

State of Michigan

Governor John Carney

State of Delaware

 

Governor Charlie Baker

Commonwealth of Massachusetts

 

Governor Tim Walz

State of Minnesota

 

Governor Chris Sununu

State of New Hampshire

 

Governor Phil Murphy

State of New Jersey

 

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham

State of New Mexico

 

Governor Andrew Cuomo

State of New York

 

Governor Roy Cooper

State of North Carolina

 

Governor Mike DeWine

State of Ohio

 

Governor Tom Wolf

State of Pennsylvania

 

Governor Phil Scott

State of Vermont

Governor Ralph Northam

Commonwealth of Virginia

Governor Jay Inslee

State of Washington

Governor Tony Evers

State of Wisconsin

 

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View and download a copy of the Governors’ letter.