EPA Reinstates California’s Vehicle Emissions Waiver, Helping to Get Delaware’s Air Quality Back on Track

DNREC’s Clean Transportation Incentive Programs offer rebates and incentives for electric and bi-fuel vehicles, as well as for the installation of public charging stations


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision this week to reinstate a California waiver that contains more stringent emissions limits for passenger vehicles in 14 states, including Delaware, has drawn praise from Delaware’s leaders for helping curtail air pollution while improving air quality. Governor John Carney called it “a necessary action to restore California’s authority under the Clean Air Act” while Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Shawn Garvin said the ruling enabled Delaware to “take the wheel and better steer our very determined and ongoing efforts to improve the state’s air quality.”

EPA’s actions as directed by the Biden Administration put back in place the California waiver, which gave that state the ability to set vehicle emissions standards that are more stringent than federal requirements. Reinstating the California waiver gives other states the authority either to follow federal standards or to adopt the more stringent standards set by California. Delaware adopted California’s Low Emission Vehicle standards in 2010. Delaware and the other 13 states and the District of Columbia who have adopted the California emissions standards have reduced their greenhouse gas and criteria air pollutant emissions while improving air quality, and also capitalized on the California waiver for helping mitigate the effects of climate change and sea level rise.

Having recently unveiled Delaware’s Climate Action Plan, which outlines strategies for the state to transition to zero-emission vehicles and energy-efficient transportation systems, Governor Carney hailed the EPA’s restoration of the waiver, which will again require automakers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as emissions of other harmful air pollutants.

“Delawareans, and all Americans, stand to benefit from putting cleaner cars on our roads and being proactive toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Governor Carney said. “Revoking the California waiver ignored the longstanding authority in the Clean Air Act for states to adopt California’s stronger vehicle emission standards. This is critical to Delaware for mitigating the impacts of climate change. Delaware is the lowest-lying state, and the transportation sector has become a significant contributor in degrading our air quality. This action puts us in position to move beyond that temporary roadblock toward a cleaner future – with cleaner air – for Delawareans.”

DNREC Secretary Garvin said that even after EPA rescinded the California waiver, Delaware remained focused on making progress toward improving air quality. For example, DNREC’s Clean Transportation Incentive Programs offer rebates and incentives for electric and bi-fuel vehicles, as well as for the installation of public charging stations.

“We continue to provide opportunities for clean vehicle ownership so that Delawareans can take an active role in improving our state’s air quality while also helping us take on one of the state’s major challenges to public health,” Secretary Garvin said. “Today we can thank the EPA for making the road ahead less cumbersome for our clean air future.”

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media contacts: Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov or Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov.

Governor Carney Releases Plan Outlining Delaware’s Path Forward on Climate Change

Reducing Emissions, Maximizing Resilience are Key Priorities

NEW CASTLE, Del. – Governor John Carney on Thursday released Delaware’s Climate Action Plan surrounded by members of his Cabinet, environmental leaders, and members of the General Assembly. The main goals of the Climate Action Plan are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to better prepare for the impacts of climate change by prioritizing clean energy and improved energy efficiency, providing support to state agencies in resilience efforts and increasing research and monitoring.

“Climate change threatens our $3.5 billion tourism industry and 44,000 jobs, our $8 billion agricultural industry, the health of our citizens and the financial well-being of our local, county and state governments,” said Governor Carney. “The strategies in the Climate Action Plan can be implemented over time, as resources, data and partnerships develop. Taking these actions to reduce emissions will allow Delaware to meet or exceed its 2025 reduction target and make further emissions reductions in the years ahead.”

Delaware’s Climate Action Plan serves three primary purposes: To help meet current commitments; to set a course for the decades ahead; and to integrate actions for both minimizing greenhouse gas emissions and maximizing resilience to climate change impacts.

“Delaware is already feeling the effects of climate change, and many of these effects are projected to worsen over the next few decades,” said Shawn M. Garvin, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC). “The Climate Action Plan provides a roadmap of strategies and actions that state agencies can take to minimize emissions and maximize resilience to climate change.”

The Climate Action Plan identifies five key action areas to minimize greenhouse gas emissions, and seven action areas that state agencies can focus on to improve resilience to climate impacts we are witnessing today, including sea level rise, warmer temperatures and more intense and frequent storms.

“It is our collective responsibility to do all that we can to minimize the disastrous impact of climate change on our public’s health and economy, so that our children and future generations have access to safe water, clean air, and clean energy. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the impact of rising sea levels will put Delaware on a sustainable path to create an eco-friendly future that preserves the health and natural beauty of our great state,” said Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long. “I want to thank DNREC, DelDOT, legislators, and the many stakeholders for their leadership on this issue and for implementing the Climate Action Plan that will help ensure the welfare of our state’s environment. It is a promise for a stronger and healthier Delaware to our children.”

Key action areas to reduce greenhouse gas emissions include:

  • clean and renewable energy;
  • energy efficiency;
  • transportation;
  • reducing high global warming potential greenhouse gases;
  • natural and working lands.

Key action areas to maximize resilience include:

  • updating or creating state regulations
  • supporting communities and stakeholders;
  • creating management plans;
  • updating facility design and operation;
  • promoting research and monitoring;
  • engaging in outreach and education;
  • providing agency support.

Through Governor Carney’s commitment to the U.S. Climate Alliance, Delaware has adopted a goal of reducing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 26% to 28% by 2025 from 2005 levels.

The Climate Action Plan is the result of a year-long process that involved residents, businesses and organizations from across Delaware.

More than 250 people participated in an initial round of public workshops, held in each county in March 2020. A follow-up series of virtual workshops held in September and October of 2020 attracted nearly 390 attendees across five sessions. Online surveys in the spring and fall of 2020 — aimed at gathering input from those unable to attend a public workshop — garnered more than 520 responses. Additionally, more than 50 written comments and questions on the plan were submitted.


New Regulation Requirements Aimed at Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Effective Sept. 1

Taking aim at greenhouse gases and accelerating the state’s engagement in working to curtail global warming, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced today that a new hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) regulation will be published March 1 in the state’s Register of Regulations with requirements for reducing harmful HFCs that go into effect Sept. 1, 2021.

The new regulation establishes a schedule for the state to phase down specific HFCs used in air conditioning/refrigeration equipment, aerosols and foams. HFCs are hundreds to thousands of times more potent per unit of mass than carbon dioxide (CO2) in contributing to climate change. Emissions of HFC emissions are growing at a rate of 8% per year, and the regulation will address the critical need to phase down their use.

“The HFCs targeted by this regulation are gases that are highly potent in terms of global warming potential,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin. “The adoption of these prohibitions will expand and strengthen Delaware’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change.”

The phase-down schedule and the requirements contained in the new HFC regulation were informed by a strong stakeholder engagement process. Through it, industry, non-government organizations, and industry association representatives worked with DNREC to tailor the regulation to reflect technology feasibility and additional environmental, industrial and economic considerations. The phase-down schedule – detailed in the regulation – begins Sept. 1, 2021, for specific HFC end-uses.

In concert with the regulatory effort for reducing greenhouse gases, the DNREC Division of Climate, Coastal and Energy has developed the “Cool Switch” Low Impact Refrigerant Program that offers incentives to offset the initial costs of switching to new equipment or retrofitting existing equipment to use a low-global warming potential refrigerant. The Cool Switch program complements the regulation to accelerate the state’s transitioning away from HFCs – and is a voluntary program available to Delaware businesses and non-residential consumers that use at least 50 lbs. of refrigerant. For comparison, 50 lbs. of refrigerant in a system might be used by the typical convenience store for effective cooling, with grocery stores and schools examples of non-residential consumers that use much more than 50 lbs. at a given time for their refrigerant needs.

The Cool Switch program launched in early 2020 and has since been recognized as one of the Top 100 Climate Policy Breakthroughs by Apolitical, a social network that promotes sharing innovative ideas and best practices among government agencies. The Buccini/Pollin Group, Giant Foods and Sea Watch International are among Delaware businesses that already are participating in the program to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Delaware.

More information about the new HFC regulation can be found on DNREC website. Details about the Cool Switch HFC program can be found on the website.

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The Division of Air Quality monitors and regulates all emissions to the air. The Division of Climate, Coastal and Energy uses science, education, policy development and incentives to address Delaware’s climate, energy and coastal challenges. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov; Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov


DNREC to launch refrigerant incentive program

DOVER – DNREC’s Division of Climate, Coastal, & Energy will launch a program on Monday, March 2 to provide incentives to businesses to install refrigeration systems that are less harmful to the environment.

The “Cool Switch – Low Impact Refrigerant Program” aims to reduce the amount of hydroflourocarbons (HFCs) released into the atmosphere. Some refrigerants contain potent greenhouse gases that have a large impact on global warming. Incentives for installing new systems or making upgrades to existing systems will be offered to participating municipalities, businesses, and industries. The incentives will be based on calculations for reducing greenhouse gas potential associated with the new refrigerant used.

Delaware is also proposing regulations that, if finalized, may phase out the use of certain HFCs. Draft regulations will be published in the state Register of Regulations.

The Cool Switch – Low Impact Refrigerant Program is funded through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). RGGI is a market-based program among 11 states, including Delaware, that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. DNREC receives RGGI funding from the state, which sells emissions allowances through auctions. Proceeds are invested in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other consumer benefit programs.

Cool Switch program grants are available for both new systems and existing system retrofits that utilize refrigerants with lower Global Warming Potential (GWP) impacts. Grants are available on a first-come, first-served basis and subject to funding availability.

For more information on the program, visit de.gov/dcce and click on Energy Policy and Programs, or contact Ed Synoski at Edward.Synoski@delaware.gov, or 302-735-3480.

Media Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902