What to Know About Washington’s Cap and Invest Rulemaking

Source: The Washington State Department of Ecology and the Seattle Times, May 23, 2022

The Climate Commitment Act (CCA), which was passed by the Washington state legislature and signed into law by Gov. Inslee in 2021, is set to go into effect on January 1, 2023.

According to the Washington State Department of Ecology, which will be doing the rulemaking for the program, the CCA caps and reduces greenhouse gas emissions from the state’s largest emitting sources and industries, allowing businesses to find the most efficient path to lower carbon emissions. This puts Washington on a path to meet the greenhouse gas emission limits set in state law.

The CCA also puts environmental justice and equity at the center of climate policy, ensuring that communities that bear the greatest burdens from air pollution today see cleaner, healthier air as the state cuts greenhouse gases. Finally, funds from the auction of emission allowances will support new investments in climate resiliency programs, clean transportation, and addressing health disparities across the state.

The program recently reached a milestone when the Department of Ecology published new draft rules that will define the scope and regulations of Washington’s first statewide cap-and-invest program — the country’s second after California kicked off its own in 2013.

The public can submit comments now until June 30. Virtual hearings will also be held on June 21, 22, 27 and 28. Ecology aims to finalize the rules by fall. The agency is mandated to launch the program by Jan. 1.

The program will cover about 75% of statewide emissions, including transportation (35%), electricity (19%), natural gas (11%), refineries (6%) and industrial sources (3%).

The remaining 25% — which includes smaller emitters as well as most of the agriculture, aviation and maritime sectors — will be exempt due to existing laws that already regulate energy use in those industries.

Take Action

CleanTech Alliance members can take action and have their voices heard through the public comment and rulemaking workshop process.

Proposed rulemaking timeline

The Washington State Department of Ecology is working on three separate rulemakings to implement the Climate Commitment Act. To stay informed about each rulemaking, sign up for email updates. See the proposed timeline for these rulemakings.

RulemakingAnnounce rulePropose ruleAdopt rule
Cap-and-invest program rules
(Chapter 173-446 WAC)
August 4, 2021May 16, 2022Fall 2022
Criteria for emissions-intensive
trade-exposed industries
(Chapter 173-446A WAC)
August 4, 2021December 22, 2021Summer 2022
Reporting emissions of greenhouse gases
(Chapter 173-441 WAC)
July 7, 2021October 6, 2021February 9, 2022

Comment period

Comments are due by June 30, 2022. Ecology accepts comments in the following ways:

  • Comment online.
  • Attend a public hearing online (detailed information below):
    June 21, 2022 at 10 a.m.
    June 22, 2022 at 6 p.m.
    June 27, 2022 at 1 p.m.
    June 28, 2022 at 10 a.m.
  • Mail to:  Joshua Grice
    Department of Ecology
    Air Quality Program
    P.O. Box 47600
    Olympia, WA  98504-7600

Public hearings

Date/Time:  June 21, 2022 at 10 a.m. online webinar
                     June 22, 2022 at 6 p.m online webinar
                     June 27, 2022 at 1 p.m. online webinar
                     June 28, 2022 at 10 a.m. online webinar

Location:  online (webinar)
    Register for each webinar to get your meeting ID and passcode.
    To hear the webinar better or to call in only, use your phone (instead of the computer) to call 253-215-8782.

Agenda: Presentation, question-and-answer session, followed by public hearing