Wash. starts legislative process to reduce carbon emissions

Source: Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) has tapped a task force to help craft a climate change bill he will put before the state’s Legislature next year.

Inslee, who was a leader on environmental issues during his time in the House of Representatives, signed an executive order today creating the Carbon Emissions Reduction Taskforce, which he called on to write a carbon cap proposal that would draw down emissions while phasing out coal use in the Evergreen State.”It must include the market mechanisms needed to meet the limits in the most effective and efficient manner possible,” the executive order reads. “The program must be designed to maximize the benefits and minimize the implementation costs, considering our emissions and energy sources, and our businesses and jobs.”The 21-member task force is co-chaired by Rod Brown of the Cascadia Law Group and Ada Healey of the investment and project-management firm Vulcan. The group has set a deadline of November to complete its work.

The order also calls for an interagency process aimed at reducing and eventually eliminating the use of coal for electric generation in Washington state. “Coal-generated electricity accounts for most of Washington’s electricity-related carbon emissions,” the governor’s office said in a statement.

It also tasked the state’s Department of Transportation to lead other agencies and local governments in promoting the electrification of Washington’s transportation system and encouraging the deployment of lower-emissions transit options.

The Washington executive order comes as states are preparing for the June release of U.S. EPA’s proposal to curb greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. States will take the lead in implementing the rule and have asked EPA to afford them the flexibility to comply through existing carbon and renewable energy programs.

The nine Northeastern states that are members of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative are promoting their cap-and-trade program as a “plug-and-play” option, reaching out to other states that might join the compact. Washington and Oregon are seen to be among the most likely candidates to join RGGI or to establish a regional trading program themselves.