State ecology department issues new “clean air” rule; governor signs international climate agreement

The Seattle Times reports on the new Clean Air Rule proposed by the state Department of Ecology. (We wrote about earlier efforts here.)

With some concessions to business concerns, Gov. Jay Inslee’s administration is pushing ahead with a plan to force greenhouse-gas cuts by some 70 of the state’s biggest industrial emitters.

The state Department of Ecology on Wednesday rolled out a new Clean Air Rule, replacing a draft withdrawn by the agency in February after criticism from industry and environmentalists.

Like the earlier proposal, the rule would require dozens of affected industries — ranging from Anacortes oil refineries to Boeing’s Everett plant and an Othello food processor — to reduce carbon emissions by an average 1.7 percent a year.

The Times reports the rule would take effect in January. Several environmental groups have praised the new rule (others say it doesn’t go far enough), but business remains concerned.

The Association of Washington Business appreciated some of Ecology’s revisions. But in a statement, the group’s president, Kris Johnson, said, “We remain concerned about the potential economic damage that could come from this proposed new layer of regulation.”

In our foundation report we wrote about weighing the balance in environmental and workplace regulation.

Many state-level regulations reflect Washingtonians’ commitment to protecting human health and the natural environment. However, the costs of regulatory compliance have a direct impact on investment and job creation…While regulations ultimately reflect Washingtonians’ policy preferences, they should be regularly reviewed to see if, for example, the benefits justify the added costs of compliance. 

The Times story also reported on the governor’s meeting in San Francisco to sign a climate accord.

On Wednesday, Inslee was in San Francisco to join California Gov. Jerry Brown, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Vancouver, B.C., Premier Christy Clark in signing a set of aspirational West Coast goals to combat climate change.

“Today is an exciting day in our continuing quest to provide cleaner air for Washingtonians,” Inslee said in an online video posted Wednesday, adding “we’ve got the most beautiful, healthiest place to live in the country, and we ought to keep it that way.”