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Washington state working on new rules for major polluters

Dozens of Washington’s largest sources of carbon pollution, including Avista and the Spokane Waste-to-Energy Plant, would have to start cutting emissions as early as 2017 under the latest rules being proposed by a state agency.

Those who can’t meet a goal of cutting their pollution by 5 percent every three years might be able to buy “credits” from other companies or pay for other programs in the state that cut carbon pollution.

The proposed rules are part of a developing plan by the Department of Ecology, which said Wednesday it was pushing ahead with a strategy to cut carbon pollution as ordered by Gov. Jay Inslee.

But the rules could meet a roadblock in the Legislature.

Under the rules, which are still subject to revision from public comment and hearings in the coming months, 23 manufacturers or other entities that emitted an annual average 100,000 metric tons or more of carbon dioxide between 2012 and 2014 would have to reduce that by 5 percent by next year. That list, compiled by the Ecology Department, is primarily power plants, natural gas distributors, refineries and waste disposal operations. It includes Avista’s statewide natural gas distribution system, and the trash incineration facility on the West Plains.

Other industrial facilities, including the Kaiser Trentwood rolling mill, would not be covered by new emissions standards until 2020.

Companies that have greater reductions than the new rules require could sell the excess to companies unable to meet required reductions. Companies that don’t meet the new pollutions standards and don’t purchase credits or develop separate carbon reduction programs could face fines. The Ecology Department is proposing fines as large as $10,000 per day per violation.

Inslee has long advocated the state take a tougher stance on carbon pollution, but his proposals have failed to pass the Legislature. The Ecology Department is trying to develop rules under existing Clean Air statutes and has scheduled two hearings in March, including one in Spokane at 6 p.m. March 23 at the Doubletree Hotel. It is also taking public comments through April 8.

Senate Environmental Committee Chairman Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, said the rules could prompt manufacturers to leave the state. He believes the rules go beyond the state’s existing statutes, and plans to propose legislation to block the Ecology Department from proceeding.


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