Delaware is the second smallest and sixth least populous state in the US but also the sixth most densely populated. According to a 2016 report from the EPA, Delaware’s climate is changing. The state has warmed two degrees (F) in the last century, heavy rainstorms are more frequent, and the sea is rising about one inch every seven years. Higher water levels are eroding beaches, submerging low lands, exacerbating coastal flooding, and increasing the salinity of estuaries and aquifers. In the coming decades, changing the climate is likely to increase coastal flooding; harm marine, wetland, and inland ecosystems; disrupt farming; and increase some risks to human health.
In December 2019, Delaware joined a coalition of mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states (PA, NY, NJ, VA, MA, MD, CT, ME, DE, RI, VT and the District of Columbia) in drafting a plan for a multi-state gasoline cap-and-trade program. The plan aims to reduce transportation-related tailpipe emissions, and would levy a tax on fuel companies based on carbon dioxide emissions. The most ambitious version of the plan is projected to reduce the area’s tailpipe emissions by 25% between 2022 and 2032. Transportation is the leading source of planet-warming emissions in 10 of these eleven states. The program could begin as early as 2022.
Delaware has no crude oil or natural gas reserves. Its largest energy supply comes from natural gas, largely transported from Pennsylvania. Delaware began transitioning its electricity generation from coal to natural gas in 2010.
In the spring of 2020, State Senator Harris McDowell proposed new legislation to renew the Renewable Portfolio Standard. Signed by the Governor John Carney on February, 2021 the legislation raised the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard— which sets requirements for the amount of renewable electricity Delmarva Power must source—to 40% by 2035. In September, 2021, the governor signed three more environmentally-focused bills:
• to accelerate the adoption of community-based photovoltaic systems in Delaware
• to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles by creating a more accessible charging-station infrastructure
• to make it unlawful to intentionally release balloons filled with air or lighter-than-air-gases.
“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 sponsor Senator Stephanie Hansen.
Delaware is one of seven states in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast to have record sweltering heat in July, 2020.
Delaware is one of twenty four states, and Puerto Rico, committed to the U.S. Climate Alliance, which is working to implement policies that advance the goals of the Paris Agreement.