Commentary: AGs ‘progressive agenda’ is at Delawareans expense

By Rep. Rich Collins

Attorney General Kathy Jennings recently announced that her office is suing 31 fossil fuel companies for “decades of deception about the role their products play in causing climate change” and the “harm that it is causing in Delaware.”

Rep. Rich Collins

Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Shawn Garvin applauded the decision saying: “Delaware and our residents are suffering from sea level rise, increased temperatures, heavy precipitation and flooding due to climate change, and that is adversely impacting our public health, environment and economy. The science is clear that these climate impacts are directly attributable to the products produced by fossil fuel companies.”

I believe this lawsuit is more concerned with advancing political ideology than it is about reflecting the concerns or welfare of our citizens.

The notion of the lawsuit is ludicrous. Delaware has, for many decades, benefited from the use of oil, natural gas and coal that have provided the means for economical transportation, competitive electricity rates and affordable home heating. Those benefits are no less apparent today. In fact, the offices of the attorney general and DNREC around the state are still largely heated, cooled and energized using a mix of these traditional, reliable fuels.

It is worth noting that even all-electric vehicles are still run largely on fossil fuels. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, only 9.2% of the nation’s electricity is produced by wind or solar resources. And, given the capricious nature of sun and wind, they cannot be relied on to provide the 24/7 baseline supply needed to maintain the nation’s power grid. That is why 62% of U.S. electricity is provided by a combination of coal, natural gas and petroleum, with another 20% from nuclear power.

While so-called “fossil fuels” are not without their drawbacks, their utilization has not been static. Over time, engines, turbines and HVAC systems have gotten significantly more efficient, cleaner and environmentally friendly.

Attorney General Jennings and Secretary Garvin should also recognize that our state and nation are in global competition with India and China, two countries that burn prodigious amounts of fossil fuels, without a fraction of the environmental constraints the U.S. has prudently implemented.

Delaware’s economy has been struggling for many years in the face of domestic and international competition — a situation that has only worsened in recent months under the constraints of government-imposed COVID-19 restrictions.

Our state’s poor economic performance over much of the last two decades was revealed in a recent analysis by the Caesar Rodney Institute. From 2002-19, earnings (the largest component of personal income) increased by 86% in the U.S. but rose only 47% in Delaware. Over the same time frame, transfer payments (like Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security) jumped 208% in Delaware, while increasing 147% nationally.

Attorney General Jennings’ lawsuit is the latest step in an ongoing effort by Delaware’s liberal leadership to force a progressive political agenda on the backs of our citizens. The state’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and additional partnerships promise to add more costs to the electricity bills of Delaware homeowners and businesses. For instance, Delaware is a member of the Transportation and Climate Initiative, which aims to increase the cost of operating traditional cars and trucks to force the adoption of electric vehicles.

Delaware needs officials who will take measured action to protect Delaware’s environment, while not treating lost job opportunities and increased burdens on working families as afterthoughts unworthy of their consideration.

Rich Collins, (R-Millsboro) serves the 41st District in the Delaware House of Representatives.