Red-state attorneys send warning shot on Wash. carbon tax

Source: By Tom Lutey, Billings Gazette • Posted: Monday, February 26, 2018

Montana and Wyoming attorneys general are warning Washington state against trying to tax carbon.

Both states have coal-fired power plants supplying electricity to Washington, where Gov. Jay Inslee (D) is pushing legislation that would tax carbon at $10 per ton.

That legislation could hurt Montana’s Colstrip power plant, which is co-owned by three utilities serving Washington customers. It produces 17 million to 20 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, according to U.S. EPA.

The Republican attorneys general — Tim Fox of Montana and Peter K. Michael of Wyoming — say Washington’s proposal would unconstitutionally regulate interstate commerce. The Clean Air Act puts EPA in charge of setting air quality standards, they argue.

“Washington state obviously does not have the jurisdiction to regulate environmental issues in Montana and Wyoming,” they wrote in a letter to Inslee. “Yet the clear intent of SSB 6203 [the carbon tax bill] is to force non-Washington power generation facilities into compliance with Washington air quality regulations through the imposition of a tax on carbon dioxide emitted outside Washington” .