Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Carbon Cap Rule in Washington State Faces Legal Challenge

Washington State Energy Profile (Credit: eia.gov/state) Click to Enlarge.
Even as the Trump administration seeks to roll back Obama-era rules to curb greenhouse gas emissions at coal-fired power plants, Washington state is forging ahead with its own rules to cap carbon pollution from big industrial facilities.

But the state faces legal challenges as it begins requiring large polluters to gradually reduce carbon emissions over time to combat climate change.

Four natural gas utilities and eight industry groups are seeking to invalidate Washington's so-called clean air rule, which took effect in January and affects such facilities as power plants, fuel and natural gas distributors, oil refineries, and manufacturers.

A Thurston County Superior Court judge is set to hear arguments Friday on one aspect of the case.  Arguments on the merits of the challenge are expected later.

After failing to persuade lawmakers to pass an ambitious cap-and-trade program, Gov. Jay Inslee directed state regulators in 2015 to use existing authority to limit carbon emissions from Washington's largest sources.  He called climate change a threat to the state and said the new regulations would help Washington meet its requirements to reduce carbon emissions.

"We've looked carefully at our law, and we believe we have the authority to do it, and that's the authority we're using," said Stu Clark, air quality program manager with the state Ecology Department.  "That's what the court will sort through.  We didn't do this lightly."

Industry groups led by the Association of Washington Business challenged the regulations last fall.  Four investor-owned natural gas utilities - Avista Corp., Cascade Natural Gas Corp., Northwest Natural Gas Co. and Puget Sound Energy - also filed a separate suit.  The two cases have been consolidated.

Read more at Carbon Cap Rule in Washington State Faces Legal Challenge

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