[9/21/16] State Regulators Call For Reduction For Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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Washington state adopted a new rule to limit greenhouse gas emissions from large polluters and last week, state environmental regulators finalized a rule that requires large industrial emitters to gradually reduce carbon emissions over time. It would cover many industries, including power plants, oil refineries, fuel distributors, pulp and paper mills and others.

Gov. Jay Inslee sought the action last year after failing to gain legislative support for a more ambitious plan to charge polluters a fee, similar to California’s cap-and-trade program. A coalition of Northeast states also has a cap-and-trade program that applies to power plants.

Under Washington’s rule, large polluters would be required to reduce carbon emissions by an average of 1.7 percent annually starting in 2017. Businesses that are responsible for 100,000 metric tons of carbon pollution annually will be required to cap and then gradually reduce their emissions.

Ecology Director Maia Bellon said the rules fall under their authority under the state’s Clean Air Act. She said she would have preferred new legislation to enact these changes…

091916 Gas Emissions 1 1:00 “…percent below those levels.”

Bellon said if a business cannot limit its own emissions, it could develop a project that reduces carbon pollution, such as an energy efficiency program. Businesses could also comply by buying carbon credits from others or from other approved carbon markets. The plan relies on businesses to trade independently among themselves and with other markets. All emissions reductions, projects and trading would be validated by independent auditors with oversight from Ecology.

Special Assistant for Climate Policy Sarah Rees [reese] said these changes won’t be cheap…

091916 Gas Emissions 2 :17 “…of about 9.6 billon dollars.”

Rees added businesses and manufacturers must begin implementing their plans next year and then gradually decrease their pollution each year. Bellon said if any businesses are not compliant, Ecology has authority to fine them up to $10,000 dollars a day per violation.

Stuart Clark, Manager of Ecology’s Air Quality Program, said he gets a lot of questions about what this means for state residents and what they buy, especially fuel and energy…

091916 Gas Emissions 3 1:01 “…going to be a lot better off.”

Supporters of the rules say it is needed to protect human health and the environment, while businesses and others say it would harm the state’s ability to attract and retain businesses.

Bellon said the department worked with industries, energy producers, businesses, and others to come up with a fair plan they can phase in over time that contains several options. She said if anyone feels the rules aren’t strong enough to combat carbon emission, work with your local lawmakers to draft stricter climate change legislation.

091916 Gas Emissions 4 :41 “…biggest day in my career.”

Ecology’s rule goes into effect Oct. 17. For more information about the Clean Air Rule, visit Ecology’s website.