- The Washington Department of Ecology has adopted a new rule aimed at gradually reducing greenhouse gas emissions from large companies, calling it a "first-of-its-kind rule to combat climate change," the Seattle Times reports.
- Businesses which emit 100,000 metric tons of carbon pollution annually will be required to cap and then gradually reduce their emissions, the state said. It will be possible to purchase carbon credits from some markets, or to take on efficiency projects, in order to comply.
- Businesses will be able to trade independently among themselves and with other markets, with independent auditors ensuring emissions reductions, projects and trading.
Washington state has enacted aggressive new rules to reduce carbon emissions, but they are not without controversy. The Seattle Times reports some critics believe the limits will hurt the state's ability to attract and retain jobs, and the final rule is less stringent than a cap-and-trade program Gov. Jay Inslee (D) previously supported that would have charged large polluters.
Last year, Inslee directed Ecology to cap and reduce carbon pollution under Washington’s Clean Air Act after failing to garner enough legislative support for a bill to cap emissions. Under this new rule, businesses would be required to cap and gradually reduce their emissions, but there will be compliance options if reductions are not possible. Projects to reduce carbon pollution, like energy efficiency programs, could be used, and businesses "could also comply by buying carbon credits from others or from other approved carbon markets," according to the Department.
The plan covers natural gas distributors, petroleum fuel producers and importers, power plants, metal manufacturers, waste facilities, and state and federal facilities. Beginning next year, they will need to prove emissions are declining by an average of 1.7% annually.