Governor orders work to commence on establishing carbon emissions cap

OLYMPIA - Gov. Jay Inslee this past Tuesday directed the state Department of Ecology to step up enforcement of existing state pollution laws and develop a regulatory cap on carbon emissions.

Inslee said Washingtonians have too much at stake to wait any longer for legislative action.

“Carbon pollution and the climate change it causes pose a very real and existential threat to our state,” Inslee said.

“Farmers in the Yakima Valley know this. Shellfish growers on the coast know this. Firefighters battling Eastern Washington blazes know this. And children suffering from asthma know this all too well and are right to question why Washington hasn’t acted to protect them,” Inslee continued.

The regulatory cap on carbon emissions would force a significant reduction in air pollution and is touted as the centerpiece of Inslee’s strategy to make sure the state meets its statutory emission limits set by the legislature in 2008.

The governor asked Ecology Director Maia Bellon to develop a public and transparent process for substantive emission reductions using existing authority. That process is expected to take about a year.

Unlike the failed legislation Inslee proposed to the 2015 legislature, the regulatory cap will not charge emitters for carbon pollution and therefore would not raise revenue for state operations.

The other key difference is the current proposal wouldn’t create a centralized market for trading of emissions credits, although emitters may be able trade amongst themselves.

The governor’s message to Ecology comes less than two weeks after he invited five young petitioners to his office to discuss their climate change concerns and the importance of taking immediate action to combat carbon emissions.

The five petitioners are part of a larger group of eight young people who took the Department of Ecology to court after the agency denied their petition to promulgate a rule that would limit carbon dioxide emissions in Washington according to what scientists say is needed to protect oceans and climate system.

“We are all really grateful that Governor Inslee took our thoughts seriously and is helping Washington lead the battle against the climate crisis and towards climate stability,” said 14-year-old petitioner Wren Wagenbach.



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