- Washington state Governor Jay Inslee has directed the state's Deapartment of Ecology to impose a binding cap on carbon emissions under the authority of the state's Clean Air Act, the Seattle Times reports.
- Inslee, a Democrat, told the department to enforce an emissions target set in 2008 as a hard cap. The decision comes after the state legislature turned back his proposal for cap and trade legislation that would have used market forces to limit GHGs.
- Inslee’s action is believed by many to have been inspired by a 90 minute meeting, originally scheduled for 20 minutes, with five young climate activists who sued the state after the Department of Ecology refused their petition to initiate a proceeding on cutting emissions. A lower court recently ruled the state must reconsider their petition.
Inslee’s office denied his action resulted from the meeting with the climate activists and he issued a statement asserting his conviction that GHG-driven climate change is “a very real and existential threat.”
Inslee’s proposed Carbon Pollution Accountability Act would have created a program with increasing limits on GHGs and an option to pay a penalty for failing to meet that limit. It would have given the state’s few big emitters — responsible for 85% of the GHGs — a financial motivation to move to renewables and efficiency. It would also have generated an estimated at $1 billion in the first year, and more after, to relieve its impacts on the most vulnerable.
It is not yet certain Inslee's executive action is legal. That question will be resolved during the year-long public Department of Ecology proceeding to determine the nature and extent of the GHG cap. The 2008 law set a target for a 50% reduction in emissions from 1990 levels by 2050.