A proposed rule would set Washington's first-ever limits on carbon pollution, acting to help slow climate change and limit projected effects on our state's coastal communities, agricultural industries and drinking water supplies.
After collecting information from industries, local governments, environmentalists, and the public, the Washington Department of Ecology is now sharing details of the clean air rule. Ecology is seeking more feedback through public comment and stakeholder meetings to further refine the rule.
Greenhouse gases, also referred to as carbon pollution, are the primary cause of climate change. About 60% of Washington's greenhouse gases would be covered under the proposed rule that would first set a maximum limit on these emissions and then gradually reduce them over time.
Natural gas distributors, petroleum fuel producers/importers, power plants, metal manufacturers, waste facilities and some other organizations responsible for 100,000 metric tons or more of greenhouse gases in Washington would be required to reduce their carbon emissions 5% every three years. In addition to gradually reducing their carbon pollution, organizations could obtain credits from other participants and carbon markets, or fund projects that reduce carbon pollution.
"It's important that we act now to protect our water supplies, infrastructure and economy for future generations," said Ecology Director Maia Bellon. "I'm a big believer in partnerships and now is the time for industry and the environmental community to collaborate with us on the best approach."
Ecology's proposed rule comes on the heels of the international summit of world leaders to address climate change. Gov. Jay Inslee, along with other state leaders, attended the conference where over 190 countries agreed to ward off the impacts of climate change and signed an accord committing to reduce carbon pollution as soon as possible.
"Cities and counties across our state are taking action now to protect their transportation systems, water supplies and homes from climate change damage," said Sarah Rees, Ecology's climate change policy lead. "Now's the time for the state to do its part."
A report released in November 2015 by the University of Washington's Climate Impacts Group revealed that Washington is already experiencing climate change impacts projected in a study they released in 2005. Washington's economy, environment and way of life are threatened by diminishing snowpack, increased flooding and sea level rise.
"This is only one piece of the puzzle," said Rees. "We need to put multiple strategies in place. The science is telling us that what was projected years ago is happening today and we need to act now to protect our environment and economy for future generations."
The public is invited to comment on the proposed rule through April 8, 2016, on Ecology's website. Comments also can be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to: Stacey Callaway, Air Quality, Department of Ecology, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504.
The Department plans to finalize these rules by the summer of 2015.