Proud of its historical status as the first of the original 13 colonies to ratify the Constitution, Delaware has certainly earned the right to proudly display our first-state motto anywhere and everywhere we can fit it. Recently Delaware signed another historic pact with many of those same states – this one, aimed at implementing a Low-Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) on energy markets statewide. Unlike the Constitution, though, this agreement isn’t about expanding the fruits of freedom and liberty to our citizens. Instead, it sets up a future in which the fuels we rely upon every day to heat our homes and drive to work are more expensive to buy, and much harder to find.


By Shaun Fink, Executive Vice President, Caesar Rodney Institute

Proud of its historical status as the first of the original 13 colonies to ratify the Constitution, Delaware has certainly earned the right to proudly display our first-state motto anywhere and everywhere we can fit it. Recently Delaware signed another historic pact with many of those same states – this one, aimed at implementing a Low-Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) on energy markets statewide.

Unlike the Constitution, though, this agreement isn’t about expanding the fruits of freedom and liberty to our citizens. Instead, it sets up a future in which the fuels we rely upon every day to heat our homes and drive to work are more expensive to buy, and much harder to find.

While this “market-based” proposal is being sold by proponents as a way to lower the carbon content of fuel and lower carbon emissions, in reality it couldn’t be further from the truth.

LCFS proponents maintain that it will make fuels cleaner and more efficient, but according to the Environmental Protection Agency, the amount of carbon emitted from the tailpipe per mile traveled is constant – 19.4 pounds of carbon dioxide emitted for every mile travelled. No matter how you look at it, an LCFS can’t change that fact.

So what exactly is an LCFS?

Under an LCFS regime, government bureaucrats would determine the fuels will be available to Delaware according to their lifecycle carbon emissions, which is based on the amount of energy used to produce the fuel. Consequently, heavy crudes will receive a higher lifecycle carbon score under this method, since they require more energy to produce than light crudes.

However, this could be quite problematic for the U.S. since almost 20 percent of our nation’s fuel supplies are derived from Canada and Canadian crude is considered more energy intensive than others. Under an LCFS, these resources would likely be barred – leaving a significant gap in America’s fuel supplies.

How would this energy gap be filled? Not by increasing our domestic production, but by increasing energy dependence on the rest of the world. That’s because an LCFS would favor light crudes, which are found in some of the most unstable and unfriendly regions of the world – the Middle East, Nigeria and Libya.

Unfortunately, since Delaware doesn’t produce crude oil and relies on petroleum products being supplied through ports in Wilmington and along the Delaware River, an LCFS could cause the First State to become an isolated fuel island – causing significant cost increases for gasoline, diesel and home heating fuels.

Given that the state’s largest consumer of energy is the industrial sector, now would not be the time for the state to adopt energy policies that will likely increase energy costs and hurt Delaware’s manufacturing and chemical production jobs.

An LCFS would also jeopardize the home heating fuel supplies that one-fifth of Delawareans rely on as their primary heating source each year. Since Delaware required almost $19 million dollars last year in funding from the Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program, restricting the availability and use of home heating fuel for the residents across Delaware just doesn’t make sense. While the First State has some onshore and offshore wind power resources along the coast and the Delaware Bay, you can’t use wind to heat your home. Not now, and not in the future.

Hasn’t Delaware been through enough this past year? With almost 8 percent of the state currently unemployed across the state, now is the time to make sure that energy is available, affordable and reliable. Unfortunately, if this LCFS agreement is passed, it could leave Delaware in an even worse economic state and leave its residents out in the cold.

Thomas Jefferson once said that Delaware was like a diamond - small, but of great value. The good news is that Delaware has the opportunity to show its value once again by taking the time to consider the economic and energy impacts of an LCFS and to stop this plan from harming those who depend on these fuels the most. By leading the way once again, the First State can show its leadership by standing up and saying no to LCFS.