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State Climate Law Aims to Reduce Carbon Emissions [AUDIO]


Washington state is crafting its ambitious cap-and-invest law to reduce the state’s emissions by 95% by 2050 and is seeking comments from the public.

The Climate Commitment Act was passed in Olympia in 2021 and compliance begins in 2023. The measure aims to cut emissions by requiring businesses emitting at least 25,000 tons of carbon pollution to bid for allowances.


David Mendoza, director of advocacy and engagement for The Nature Conservancy in Washington, said the program also includes air-quality commitments for communities hit hardest by air pollution.

“Emissions like particulate matter lead to negative health outcomes, higher rates of asthma, higher rates of heart disease, lower life expectancy,” Mendoza outlined. “And so, there’s a very rigorous program that’s being developed right now by the Department of Ecology to set air-quality targets, so that we’re seeing a set and specified reduction in these harmful criteria pollutants.”

The Department of Ecology is seeking public comment through Nov. 4 as it develops rules for the program. The agency wants guidance on how to best identify communities overburdened by air pollution and where to invest in air monitors. It has scheduled some online public comment sessions, including today at 6 p.m.

Mendoza pointed out Washington has learned from California’s cap-and-trade program, which has been criticized for not reducing pollution in overburdened communities.


“The key component that differentiates our policy from California’s — and, I think, other cap-and-trade programs that have been passed — is the air quality program that’s embedded, and a part of this work,” Mendoza contended.

Mendoza added the 2021 HEAL Act established the Environmental Justice Council, which will play an important role in shaping the law.

“What we’re going for is essentially a culture shift in how state government interacts with underrepresented communities, overburdened communities,” Mendoza explained. “Instead of being kind of an external stakeholder, how are we bringing them in to be a partner in this process, so their concerns are baked into all these policies from the beginning?”


Erik Tegethoff headshot
Eric Tegethoff | WNS

Eric Tegethoff is a journalist covering the Northwest. Eric has worked as a reporter for KBOO, XRAY FM, and Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland, Oregon, as well as other print and digital news media. In 2012, Eric traveled to North Dakota to write about the Bakken region oil boom. He’s also worked at a movie theater, as a campaign canvasser, and quality assurance at a milk packaging factory. Eric is originally from Orlando, Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida in 2010.

The above article was provided by Washington News Service. The Auburn Examiner has not independently verified its content.

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