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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control

Agency proposes rules for largest polluters

Dozens of Washington’s largest sources of carbon pollution, including Avista and the Spokane Waste-to-Energy Facility, 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 companies in the state that do better than required or operations in other states or Canadian provinces that have similar pollution reduction systems, 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 explained Wednesday it was pushing ahead with a strategy to cut carbon pollution as ordered by Gov. Jay Inslee.

Under the rules, which are still subject to revision from public comment and hearings in the coming months, 23 manufacturers or other entitities 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 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 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 department is trying to develop rules under existing Clean Air statutes, and has scheduled two hearings in March, including one at the Double Tree Hotel in Spokane at 6 p.m. on March 23. It is also taking public comments through April 8.

Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981 and retired in 2021. He is currently the political and state government correspondent covering Washington state.

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