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Washington State to enact nation’s most stringent emissions law

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee is set to sign into law the nation’s toughest greenhouse gas emissions law today.

Governor Jay Inslee speaking with attendees at the 2019 California Democratic Party State Convention at the George R. Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, California. Image Credit: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

As Bloomberg News reported, the new legislation sets a cap on greenhouse gas emissions and lays the groundwork for establishing a marketplace to buy and sell credits from the state for those greenhouse gas emissions.

It’s a sweeping piece of state legislation that should cover roughly 75% of the state’s emissions and comes as the national government has made climate commitments a cornerstone of its new infrastructure policymaking.

The new standards, set to take effect in 2023 put Washington on the road to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from a range of industries by 2050.

Refineries, industrial manufacturers, and power companies are all eligible to begin buying and selling credits under the mandate. The only heavily emitting industry not included in the legislation is agriculture.

With the passage, Washington joins California as the only two states to establish caps on greenhouse gas emissions, but there are differences between policies in the two states.

California’s emissions cap legislation only covers up to 2030, while Washington’s extends all the way to 2050, when the world should have almost fully decarbonized its industrial processes under the targets set by the Paris Agreement.

Environmentalists hailed the new policies set by the state when they were first passed in April of this year.

“The Climate Commitment Act sets a new gold standard for other states across the nation to follow by tackling both carbon pollution and air pollution,” wrote Kaetlyn Roedner Sutter, a senior policy expert at the Environmental Defense Fund, in an April statement after the bill was passed. “This landmark bill would slash emissions at the pace and scale necessary to curb the worst impacts of climate change, while driving down damaging air pollution that disproportionately burdens many low-income communities and communities of color.”

Legislators also hope that the carbon caps could be a windfall for the state’s government as they expect billions in revenue to come in over the next decade. That’s good news for the communities in the state which have been adversely affected by environmental pollution.

Under the state’s new legislation, about 35% of the new funds will be invested in communities that have been hardest hit by polluting industries.


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