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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Election key in climate agenda

Phuong Le Associated Press

AUBURN, Wash. – Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is likely in 2015 to roll out some of the most ambitious proposals in the nation to reduce carbon pollution such as a bill to cap greenhouse gases, but unless Democrats can make gains in the state Senate on Tuesday, he’ll face a tougher challenge.

The Democratic governor is hoping for allies next legislative session when he is likely to introduce a bill to cap greenhouse gases through a market-based system, whether a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade program.

Inslee also is studying a mandate for cleaner fuels, similar to California’s first-in-the-nation standard, though he says he could take executive action without legislative approval.

Inslee and his Democratic allies need to win control of the 49-member Senate to increase the likelihood of his proposals’ success.

But critics, including Republican state lawmakers, worry the proposals could hurt working families and businesses and say there are other ways to encourage people to reduce pollution.

“We’re already pretty clean and we’re moving in the right direction without the heavy hand of government,” said Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler of Ritzville. The state gets a majority of its electricity from hydropower and the state’s only coal-fired power plant is slated to close in 2025, he said.

Inslee says the state can find solutions to curb carbon pollution while also spurring jobs and economic growth.

“The decision people will make this November can have a huge ramification on the course of our state,” Inslee said Tuesday.

The state Office of Financial Management ran two scenarios with a low carbon price and a high one, and found there was a positive, though small, effect on jobs, gross domestic product and personal income with varying effects across industries.

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