Back from Paris, Inslee aims to tackle carbon pollution | The Petri Dish

Nothing like a few days away from the office to get one’s spirit rejuvenated and energy recharged.

Jerry Cornfield

Jerry Cornfield

Nothing like a few days away from the office to get one’s spirit rejuvenated and energy recharged.

For Gov. Jay Inslee, it came in a trip to Paris, where he attended the international confab on climate change.

He hung out with folks who share his view that climate change poses the greatest threat to the continued existence of humanity on this planet, folks obsessed with slowing the damage through every political and regulatory means possible.

The experience refueled Inslee’s confidence that reducing emissions of pollution-causing carbon and other greenhouse gases is a concern among leaders of cities, states, provinces and nations worldwide.

“I don’t want to be too carried away by this moment,” he told reporters on a conference call Tuesday. “This has been an inspirational group that I’ve been talking to the last few days in Paris. I’m glad I’m here.”

Inslee returned to Olympia Wednesday, a place where he’s thus far failed to move any significant carbon emission reduction legislation due to opposition from Republicans and reluctance of his fellow Democrats.

Now he’s trying to do so by rewriting the state’s clean air rules, a strategy which isn’t subject to legislative approval.

But this effort may wind up helping clean the air above Quebec City or Los Angeles before it does Everett or Seattle.

At Inslee’s direction, the Department of Ecology is crafting the rule to establish limits on the amount of carbon pollution emissions for 31 companies and investor-owned utilities representing Washington’s largest emitters of pollutants.

Over time, the cap for each emitter will be slowly reduced. Companies will be required to meet their first emission reduction deadline in 2020.

At that time, companies or utilities that exceed their assigned cap can avoid penalties by investing in other pollution-reduction efforts in the state.

Or, they may be able to comply by going out of state and purchasing carbon pollution credits in cap-and-trade markets operating in places like California or the province of Quebec.

In other words, a company could avoid punishment for polluting too much in Washington by helping reduce pollution somewhere else in the world.

“We have made no final decisions,” Inslee said. But the rule would reduce carbon pollution and reduce costs for Washington businesses doing their best to meet the standards, he said.

“Our air becomes cleaner any time we reduce air pollution anywhere in the world,” he said. “It doesn’t matter where coal is burned, it ends up in our water in Puget Sound and in our kids’ lungs. Perhaps not so much the particulates, but the carbon dioxide is a worldwide phenomenon.

“So, when we (eliminate) a ton of coal being burned in Quebec it has an impact on improving our situation in Washington,” he said.

A draft of the rule is expected to be released in the next few weeks, followed by months of review and public hearings before possible adoption in late 2016.

Political reporter Jerry Cornfield’s blog, The Petri Dish, is at www.heraldnet.com. Contact him at 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com and on Twitter at @dospueblos

 


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