NPR Story
4:39 pm
Mon October 14, 2013

Inslee Wants To Explore State-Only 'Cap and Trade' Scheme

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday laid out his wish list for how he'd like Washington state to combat global warming pollution.

It includes eliminating any electricity generated by coal and putting a statewide cap on greenhouse gas emissions. Legislative Republicans immediately raised concerns.

Back in 2008, the Washington Legislature set ambitious goals for reducing the state's carbon footprint. But they're just goals, without enforcement mechanisms. Subsequently, a pact between 11 Western states and provinces to put a price on greenhouse gas emissions fell apart.

Now Inslee chairs a bipartisan legislative work group tasked with recommending policies to achieve the state's climate goals. He says on its current course the state will fall far short.

"That shows the necessity in my view of having a belt-and-suspenders, economy wide approach to capping emissions in this state," the Democratic governor said.

By that Inslee means a "carbon cap and trade" system for industrial polluters along with requirements to increase use of alternative fuels in transportation.

Republican legislators flanking the governor at a workgroup meeting weren't shy about raising the fear that this could drive businesses to leave Washington for less regulated neighboring states.

"How do we address for Washington state going it alone on certain issues in terms of the economic impact to manufacturing, job base and agriculture," Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, rhetorically asked.

The four legislative members of the work group also offered proposals Monday.

Ericksen talked up nuclear power. Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy, suggested focusing on energy conservation incentives, especially to increase energy efficiency in buildings. Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Burien, echoed the governor's call to "transition off fossil fuels" in transportation.

The goal is the get the state back on track to meet the following targets set by the 2008 Washington Legislature:

By 2020, reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions in the state to 1990 levels;

By 2035, reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions in the state to 25% below 1990 levels;

By 2050, reduce overall emissions to 50% below 1990 levels, or 70% below the state's expected emissions that year if it were to continue with business as usual.

Citizens can offer their two cents for how the state should try to cut global warming pollution at two upcoming public hearings. The first is Wednesday evening in Spokane. A second hearing is scheduled for Oct. 23 at the Seattle waterfront.

This was first reported by the Northwest News Network.

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