New rule issued to cap carbon emissions, locally

On Thursday, the Washington Department of Ecology issued a clean air rule aimed at reducing carbon pollution in the state. The new rule, set to go live on October 17, will require businesses that emit 100,000 metric tons of carbon or more to cap and reduce emissions over time.

“When we consider the challenges our communities face from climate change, we are compelled to act,” said Washington Department of Ecology director Maia Bellon at a news conference on Friday.

The rule is the first of its kind and makes use of Washington’s Clean Air Act to cap and reduce carbon pollution.

A total of 24 businesses that emit the largest amount of carbon pollution will be the first impacted by the rule, Bellon said at the conference. Puget Sound Energy, BP’s Cherry Point Refinery, the Shell Puget Sound Refinery in Anacortes are among the first several companies called on to participate in the initial phase of the rule.

Through this initiative, the Washington Department of Ecology expects to reduce emissions by about 20 million metric tons by 2035, Bellon said at the conference.

Under the new rule, select businesses and organizations will have to reduce emissions by an average of 1.7 per year starting in 2017. If that’s not possible, businesses can develop projects to reduce pollution locally or can purchase carbon credits from others in the program or other approved carbon markets, Bellon said.

“Today marks a watershed moment in our country’s history,” said Bellon in a news release. “We are taking leadership under our clean air act, adopting a strong and practical plan to reduce greenhouse gases, and doing our fair share to tackle climate change.”

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