Skip to main content
Delaware Senate Democrats

Senate Passes Landmark Environmental Bills in Second Week of Session

January 21, 2021

DOVER – In just the second week of the 151st General Assembly, the Delaware State Senate passed major legislation aimed at protecting the environment and combating climate change.

Sponsored by Sen. Stephanie Hansen, D-Middletown, both bills will now head the Delaware House of Representatives for a final vote

“We cannot afford to see environmental issues as a niche interest any longer,” said Sen. Hansen, chair of the Senate Environmental and Energy Committee. “Every single Delawarean has a shared interest in addressing climate change and preserving our ecosystems; every single one of us stands to lose if we do nothing. As elected officials, we owe it to our constituents to make these issues a priority. Both of these bills reflect that urgency and I am proud to have sponsored them in the Senate.”

Senate Bill 33 would update Delaware’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), the state’s principal tool for promoting renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions. Delaware is currently on track to meet the existing RPS goal of 25% renewable energy by 2025. SB 33 would extend the RPS and gradually increase that goal each year until it reaches 40% by 2035.

The bill also would settle a dispute over cost caps for renewable energy credits (RECs) by establishing a maximum price and alternative compliance payments, should the cost of these credits rise unexpectedly. This market-based mechanism would replace the existing cost cap provisions, aims to end ongoing litigation on the subject, and protects ratepayers.

“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 Rep. Ed Osienski, D-Brookside, the lead House sponsor. “Renewable 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. In Delaware, utilities are on target to meet the 2025 goal of 25 percent renewable energy, so it makes good sense to establish new goals for our RPS program.”

SB 33 passed the Senate 13-8.

Senate Bill 22 would ban the import, export, sale, transport, distribution, or propagation of any plant identified by the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture as invasive. While there are many vines, grasses, shrubs, trees and other plant species that have made their way to Delaware from other regions of the world, invasive species are those that are especially prolific and threaten to displace native plants or cause economic or environmental harm.

Initially proposed and passed by the Senate in 2020, the bill was introduced after several years spent investigating the disappearance of native species in Delaware by the Ecological Extinction Task Force and Delaware Native Species Commission.

“Invasive plant species threaten the beautiful and diverse range of native vegetation in our state and can cause great harm to our fragile ecosystems,” said Rep. Debra Heffernan, D- Brandywine. “Prohibiting the sale and distribution of invasive species is a great step toward protecting our native species and preserving the natural landscape of our state.”

SB 22 passed the Senate unanimously.

The votes in Delaware’s State Senate come just one day after the inauguration of President Joseph R. Biden, who began his first day in office with a series of sweeping environmental policy changes and executive orders.