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Green Delaware Action Alert #101

Good anti-smoking bill needs help
Bad power plant resolution
Should the Delaware Electric Coop be regulated at all?
New Green Delaware web site

Senate Bill 99

Port Penn, DE.  June 19, 2001.  Senate Bill 99 would ban smoking in most public places.  This would be a big health benefit, as “second hand” or “environmental” tobacco smoke is a very intense and toxic form of air pollution.  SB99, whose prime sponsor is Sen. Dave McBride,  illustrates how special interests chip away at good legislation.  In the Senate the bill passed, but with an amendment to allow smoking in slot-machine places (there is no justification for this other than the political power of the gambling industry), and weakened in other respects.

SB99 now goes to the House of Representatives, where other amendments to further weaken it are being pushed by the hotel and restaurant lobbies.  House Amendment 1, sponsored by Reps.  Wagner, Fallon, Ewing, Stone, Carey, Spence, Thornburg, Boulden, and Buckworth, would allow smoking in hotel and motel bars and lobbies.  Effectively it would mean that many restaurants would continue to allow smoking.  A hearing was held in the House Health and Human  development Comm., chaired by Rep. Pam Maier.  (Maier testified for the prosecution in Alan  Muller’s trial for “trespassing” in the House of Representatives).  During this hearing the bill was criticized by Reps. Joe Miro and John Viola, and lobbyists for the hotel and restaurant industries.  Miro said repeatedly that “it’s an economic development issue.”   The argument essentially is that people will go to eating establishments in other states rather than eat where they can’t smoke.  Others, such as Sen. McBride and Rep. Stephanie Ulbrich, spoke for the bill.

ACTION: Contact legislators to support SB 99 without any more weakening amendments.  Let restaurants you patronize know how you feel about this.

Senate Joint Resolution 5

Delaware Legislators are nervous about electricity.  They know they “deregulated” the electricity industry carelessly and at the behest of a swarm of greedy special interests.  They worry that the piper may have to be paid, as in California.  (When the Delaware Senate passed "dereg" we were the only organization in the state to speak against it.  The senators found this a good time to rustle papers, go to the bathroom, and talk to their neighbors....)  Legislators know they haven’t much listened to anyone but utility lobbyists, but they now know (maybe) that the utilities themselves are floundering and have no idea what the future will bring.  They don’t really have a clue as to how Delaware should manage it’s energy needs, but they know their constituents would be pissed off by blackouts.

SJR 5, (Sen.  Robert  Venables), is entitled:  DIRECTING THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION TO REVIEW AND ANALYZE THE STATE'S AVAILABLE ENERGY  SUPPLY AND POTENTIAL ENERGY NEEDS AND TO PREPARE A REPORT FOR THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY IDENTIFYING SYSTEMIC CHANGES THAT MAY BE NECESSARY AND SUGGESTING LEGISLATIVE ACTION THAT CAN ADDRESS THOSE CHANGES.  This sounds fairly harmless until one read it (excerpts):

“WHEREAS, legislation passed in Delaware in recent years has, as in California, given the green light to electric deregulation, but has failed to make it any easier for energy companies to build power plants that will be necessary to insure that an adequate supply of affordable energy will be available when needed; and WHEREAS, some recent legislation has, while in pursuit of the admirable goals of environmental security and an improved quality of life for our citizenry, in some ways actually made it more difficult for energy companies to build such additional plants; and ...”

Sen. Venables, a habitual enemy of environmental regulation, seems to want a report that could be used to justify allowing increased pollution from power plants.  SJR 5 doesn’t say a word about conservation, efficiency, or renewable resources.  It’s the disastrous Bush energy policy brought home to Delaware.

ACTION: Let legislators know you OPPOSE SJR 5 and support sustainable energy supply emphasizing conservation and renewable resources such as wind and solar.

Senate Bill 189

SB 189, which has at least 30 sponsors in the General Assembly and has passed the Senate,  would allow the Delaware Electric Cooperative, one of two main regulated electric utilities in Delaware (the other is big polluter Conectiv, now planning a merger) to “opt out” of regulation by the Public Service Commission (PSC).  The bill states “Since a cooperative is owned by its member-consumers, such State regulation is duplicative and costly to the member-consumers.”

But, “the coop” is still a monopoly as far as residential electric service is concerned, and may effectively remain so.  We've had some encounters with “the coop,” which has done such dubious things as investing its members’ money in a nuke plant in Virginia and a power plant in South
America.  At the same time, it neglected its own infrastructure such that many of its poles fell down during an ice storm.  While the Delaware Public Service Commission is relatively weak and utility-oriented, it does at least provide some supervision of management, and customers with some
recourse.  Is it in the interest of coop “members” to give this up?  Does it make sense to go further down the path of “deregulation” when we can’t predict the consequences of what has already been done?  We wonder, if "opt out" were presented to coop members for a vote, whether balanced information would be provided. (Municipal electric utilities, such as Dover Electric, aren't regulated by the PSC.)

New Green Delaware Web Site

Green Delaware’s new web page is up and running–although it’s still “under construction.”  Check it out at http://www.greendel.org.  Let us know what you think.  The old web site is also still  available at http://members.dca.net/greendel/.

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Green Delaware is a community based organization working on environmental and 
public health issues.  We try to provide "information you can use."  Please use it. 

Let us know what you think. 

Email us at 

GreenDel@dca.net

or contact
Alan J. Muller, Exec. Director
P.O. Box 69
Port Penn, DE 19731
302-834-3466 Voice
302-836-3005 FAX

Green Delaware is funded through membership dues, donations, and grants.
All work is done by volunteers and members including this website. 

This page was last updated on  June 20, 2001.
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