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Washington State Is Gearing Up A System To Cut Its Carbon Emissions

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"Washington State Is Gearing Up A System To Cut Its Carbon Emissions"

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Seattle, Washington.

Seattle, Washington.

CREDIT: Shutterstock

Washington State is poised to join California and several Canadian provinces in a carbon trading system, according to a Monday memoranda from the governor’s office.

The Western Climate Initiative (WCI) is an agreement between California, British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba to develop and implement coordinated systems to cut their collective greenhouse gas emissions. California already has its cap-and-trade plan, for instance, and British Columbia has sported a carbon tax since 2008. Washington had been poised to also join the WCI, but the midterm elections 2010 upended much of the political momentum.

Now Governor Jay Inslee’s (D) memorandum to Washington’s Carbon Emissions Reduction Taskforce (CERT) indicates the state is out to close the deal, according to a story by Responding to Climate Change.

“Material covered with the CERT thus far has mainly focused on how these systems have been implemented in other jurisdictions,” the memorandum said. “This meeting begins the process of bringing a Washington State-specific focus to how these policy design options could be implemented.”

Both a cap-and-trade system and a carbon tax are under consideration as possible options. According to local Washington media, the CERT task force was briefed on the options Tuesday, and Inslee intends to produce a bill from their deliberations for the 2015 legislative session. The goal would be to hit the state’s previous commitment to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2035. (And to return to 1990 levels by 2020.)

In considering the cap-and-trade option, the memorandum explicitly suggests linking up with the California and Quebec markets, and through them to the WCI as a whole. “By joining with other jurisdictions, Washington would have better access to the number of market entities needed for a well-functioning market,” it continued.

The CERT team will be submitting feedback until August 5th, and will meet again in September to further flesh out the policy options.

This is Inslee’s second crack at bringing a plan to cut carbon emissions to Washington: in 2013, the Governor tried to get it done through a legislative committee that split between Democrats and Republicans, with the latter eschewing a cap-and-trade system or emissions limits in favor more nuclear power and a possible revisitation of older climate goals. By contrast, the CERT team is made up of Inslee appointees from business, labor, non-profit, governmental and environmental groups.

British Columbia’s carbon tax cut the province’s fossil fuel consumption over 17 percent from 2008 to 2012, with negligible effects on the economy. The market in carbon permits created by California’s cap-and-trade system has also been strong, and its scope is set to more than double in 2015 — after which it will oversee 85 percent of the state’s economy.

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