Inslee Proposes Cap-and-Trade Plan

By Jim Brunner and Hal Bernton, Seattle Times, December 19, 2014.

Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday laid out an ambitious plan for cutting Washington’s carbon emissions that would vault the state to the forefront of global efforts to combat climate change.

The sweeping proposal drew cheers from a crowd of environmentalists, labor leaders, and other supporters on hand for Inslee’s climate-plan unveiling at Seattle’s flagship REI store.

But a tougher crowd waits in Olympia.  Republicans and some business groups are already mustering opposition to Inslee’s cap-and-trade plan, which would put a price on the greenhouse gases spewed not only from large industrial plants but also car and truck tail pipes and electric utilities.

Inslee forecasts his proposal would raise nearly $1 billion a year for transportation projects, schools and other programs at a time when the state faces big budget shortfalls.  He predicted that cash will lure bipartisan support.

“Both parties are going to conclude — and write this down because it’s going to come to pass ­— both parties will have to find some revenues to meet our educational commitment to our children,” Inslee said.  “And when they do, I believe when they open their minds to new ideas … they may conclude it’s better to tax pollution than voters.”

But Republicans, as well as some business and farm groups, argued the Inslee plan would raise gas prices and harm consumers.

State Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, who chairs Senate’s energy and environment committee, called Inslee’s cap-and-trade plan “an energy tax, which is really a tax on mobility — which is a tax on freedom.”

Inslee’s proposals also will include efforts to spur greater use of solar power, tax breaks for electric cars and new investments in clean-energy development.  Inslee also has asked the state Department of Ecology to recommend a proposed clean-fuel standard that, through executive order, would increase the use of alternatives such as biodiesel.

While saying he might agree with Inslee on some ideas, such as promotion of new clean-energy technologies, Ericksen dismissed the state’s 2008 law calling for carbon emission cuts as “a nonbinding goal.”


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Jim Brunner: 206-515-5628 or  On Twitter @Jim_Brunner