Wash­ing­ton lim­its car­bon pollution

Business Mirror - - GREEN MONDAY - AP

SEAT­TLE—Wash­ing­ton state reg­u­la­tors on Wed­nes­day un­veiled an up­dated plan to limit green­house- gas emis­sions from large pol­luters, the lat­est at­tempt by Gov. Jay Inslee to push ahead with a bind­ing cap on car­bon emis­sions af­ter strug­gling to win ap­proval from leg­is­la­tors.

Wash­ing­ton would join nearly a dozen states, in­clud­ing Cal­i­for­nia, that have capped car­bon pollution from industrial sources.

The pro­posed rule re­quires large industrial emit­ters to grad­u­ally re­duce car­bon emis­sions over time. The rule would cover many in­dus­tries, in­clud­ing power plants, oil re­finer­ies, fuel dis­trib­u­tors, pulp and paper mills and others.

Inslee, who has called cli­mate change “the sin­gle most im­por­tant is­sue of our time,” has gained na­tional at­ten­tion on en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues but, so far, has failed in his own state to pass am­bi­tious car­bon- re­duc­tion pro­pos­als, in­clud­ing a plan to charge pol­luters a fee for emis­sions. Frus­trated by in­ac­tion in the Leg­is­la­ture, Inslee last year used his ex­ec­u­tive au­thor­ity and di­rected state reg­u­la­tors to limit car­bon pollution un­der the state’s Clean Air Act.

“To­day is an ex­cit­ing day in our con­tin­ued quest to pro­vide cleaner air for Wash­ing­to­ni­ans,” Inslee said in a video state­ment on Wed­nes­day.

He said car­bon pollution is hurt­ing the state and cited two con­sec­u­tive record- set­ting wild­fire sea­sons that burned about 2,000 square miles, among other cli­mate- re­lated prob­lems.

On Wed­nes­day Inslee joined lead­ers of Ore­gon, Cal­i­for­nia and Bri­tish Columbia in San Francisco to sign a cli­mate agree­ment with six West Coast cities. The pact says they will work to­gether to en­cour­age zero- emis­sions ve­hi­cles, to re­duce en­ergy use in build­ings and to take other mea­sures.

Un­der Wash­ing­ton’s pro­posed rule, ex­pected to be fi­nal­ized in late sum­mer, large emit­ters would be re­quired to re­duce car­bon emis­sions by an av­er­age of 1.7 per­cent an­nu­ally.

The rule would ini­tially ap­ply to about two dozen oil re­finer­ies, power plants and others that re­lease at least 100,000 met­ric tons of car­bon a year. Many more fa­cil­i­ties would likely be cov­ered by the rule, as the thresh­old is low­ered over the next decades.

Kris John­son, pres­i­dent of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Wash­ing­ton Busi­ness, said his group is still con­cerned about the po­ten­tial eco­nomic dam­age from this new reg­u­la­tion.

He said in a state­ment that the cap “sends the wrong sig­nal to busi­nesses of all sizes, both those that are here al­ready and those hop­ing to re­lo­cate here, by driv­ing up en­ergy costs for em­ploy­ers and fam­i­lies.”

Ac­cord­ing to the state’s pre­lim­i­nary eco­nomic anal­y­sis, the rule would cost busi­nesses be­tween $1.4 bil­lion and $2.8 bil­lion over 20 years to com­ply. But it’s also es­ti­mated to pro­vide about $14.5 bil­lion in ben­e­fits over 20 years, such as im­proved en­vi­ron­men­tal and health con­di­tions, ac­cord­ing to a state anal­y­sis.

Officials with the Wash­ing­ton De­part­ment of Ecol­ogy say the rule is needed to pro­tect hu­man health and the en­vi­ron­ment from cli­mate change. It would cover about twothirds of the state’s emis­sions.

“Car­bon pollution has reached ram­pant lev­els and we’re com­mit­ted to cap­ping and re­duc­ing it,” said Sarah Rees, Ecol­ogy’s spe­cial as­sis­tant on cli­mate pol­icy.

Some crit­ics said the pro­posed rule doesn’t re­quire enough emis­sions re­duc­tions and dis­re­gards cur­rent science. “We are ex­tremely dis­ap­pointed,” said An­drea Rodgers, an at­tor­ney rep­re­sent­ing young ac­tivists who sued the state to force it to adopt new rules to limit car­bon emis­sions based on the bestavail­able science.

Busi­nesses can com­ply by low­er­ing their emis­sions, buy­ing “emis­sions re­duc­tion credits” from others in the pro­gram, in­vest­ing in projects that per­ma­nently re­duce emis­sions in the state or buy al­lowances through an­other cap- and- trade pro­gram, such as ones run by Cal­i­for­nia and Que­bec.

It’s the state’s sec­ond at­tempt at an emis­sions rule. Ecol­ogy officials said on Wed­nes­day that the lat­est ver­sion ad­dresses con­cerns raised by busi­nesses, en­vi­ron­men­tal groups and others when the first draft was re­leased. The agency with­drew that draft rule in Fe­bru­ary to make changes.

Stu Clark, the state’s air- qual­ity man­ager, said this ver­sion tries to ac­com­mo­date busi­ness growth, rec­og­nize ac­tions that have al­ready taken steps to re­duce their emis­sions be­fore the rule takes ef­fect and pro­vides pro­vi­sions for en­ergy- in­ten­sive busi­nesses that face in­tense global competition.

AP/ TED S. WAR­REN

PILES of wood chips sit near the Rock­Tenn paper mill on Wed­nes­day in Ta­coma, Wash­ing­ton. State reg­u­la­tors re­leased an up­dated plan to limit green­house­gas emis­sions from large pol­luters, in­clud­ing the mill.

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