Governor seeks to reduce carbon emissions through regulation, avoids transportation “poison pill”

Governor Jay Inslee has apparently decided to address climate change through stiffer enforcement of current laws rather than triggering the transportation “poison pill” by implementing a low carbon fuel standard by executive authority. The Spokesman-Review reports

Gov. Jay Inslee believes he’s found a way to cut carbon pollution without activating a “poison pill” that would cut state money for mass transit, bike and pedestrian projects.

Inslee said Tuesday he was ordering the state Department of Ecology to step up enforcement of current pollution laws and develop a regulatory cap on carbon emissions in an effort to meet limits set by the Legislature in 2008. The department was directed to find ways to make substantial reductions in the emissions using existing authority.

The poison pill option had sparked controversy within the environmental community and substantial editorial board opposition. The Associated Press reports

Inslee wrote that the rulemaking process on the regulatory cap doesn’t prevent future legislative action for a more comprehensive program.

Also Tuesday, Inslee said he would not pursue a low-carbon fuel standard, which would require cleaner fuels over time. Under a requirement added by the Senate, a $16 billion transportation revenue package that was recently signed by the governor would have moved all fee-based funding for transit and bike paths into the main transportation account if the standard was adopted. Inslee was opposed to what he called a “poison pill,” but ultimately decided to sign the bill.

“Moving forward on a regulatory limit on pollution will ensure that Washington addresses carbon pollution and maintains a robust investment in transit, bicycle and pedestrian improvements, ferries and other important transportation choices,” the governor’s office wrote in a news release.

Additional coverage in the Seattle Times and Crosscut.