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Ecology begins rule-making process to cap carbon emissions

by caprecord

The state’s Ecology department is moving forward with a rule-making process that would require more than 30 manufacturers, power plants and landfills in Washington to significantly reduce greenhouse emissions.

Gov. Jay Inslee directed the department in July to develop a cap for carbon emissions under the state’s Clean Air Act after his own proposed cap-and-trade plan failed to advance in the Legislature during the 2015 session.

Ecology director Maia Bellon said in a press briefing Monday the department’s rule is “fundamentally different” than the governor’s plan. She noted that Inslee’s plan targeted a larger number of polluters — about 130 facilities — that emitted more than 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year. Ecology is focusing on a smaller number of facilities, about 35, that are owned by 30 companies and emit at least 100,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year.

Several landfills meet Ecology’s threshold, including ones in Yakima, Maple Valley, Graham and Castle Rock. Four power plants operated by Puget Sound Energy would be required to reduce emissions, as would natural gas distributors Avista and Cascade Natural Gas. It also targets refineries and petroleum fuel facilities such as the BP Cherry Point Refinery, Tesoro in Anacortes and Phillips 66 in Ferndale. Read the full list of companies here.

Ecology air quality program manager Stu Clark said companies will have a “wide variety of options” to reduce pollution, such as installing new equipmenht, obtaining credits for emissions, sharing emissions credit or paying for projects elsewhere in the state that reduce greenhouse gases.

If companies don’t comply, Ecology has enforcement powers under the state’s Clean Air Act to issue notices and penalties, Clark said.

Health officials on Monday said the latest drought and wildfires underscore the need to reduce carbon. State Secretary of Health John Wiesman said smoke from wildfires resulted in hundreds of hospitalizations, and warmer temperatures are decimating the state’s shellfish industry.

Ecology plans to introduce a draft rule in December and begin gathering public input early next year, with the goal of having a rule implemented by 2016.

The rule aims to meet a 2008 law passed by the Legislature that set a goal of reducing greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and half that by 2050.