JUUstice WA has not made the Climate Commitment Act a priority because there is some opposition from frontline communities on equity issues (see the detailed hearings report, below). Some members have asked about the bill, so it is described here. It passed the legislature with amendments to meet some of the objections of frontline communities.
The “Cap and Invest” program directs Department of Ecology to set a cap on emissions and set rules for compliance. Allowances are used to invest in clean energy projects. By 2022 Ecology must set caps and rules for allowances. Reductions begin in 2023 and are made more stringent during each period. The caps are set on a sliding scale according RCW 70.235 as follows:
- By 2030, reduce overall emissions of GHGs in the state to 45 percent below 1990 levels,
or 50 MMT.
- By 2040, reduce overall emissions of GHGs in the state to 70 percent below 1990 levels,
or 27 MMT.
- By 2050, reduce overall emissions of GHGs in the state to 95 percent below 1990 levels,
or 5 MMT, and achieve net-zero GHG emissions.
In the legislature, amendments were introduced to make implementation of the law contingent on passing a 5 cents per gallon gas tax. But Governor Inslee, who has line-item veto authority, vetoed that section of the law so it is no longer contingent on the gas tax.
Hearing in House Committee on Environment and Energy, April 14, 2021
Staff: The revised bill takes account of transportation funding (a provision to forestall opposition from Senate Transportation Committee). Ecology must develop rules in consultation with Department of Commerce and Utilities and Transportation Commission. Some allowances will be provided to natural gas utilities to permit transition off gas appliances. Projects must meet high labor standards. Money from allowances can be used for costs of administrating the law, and may also go to low-income families. Most funds must address emissions reductions and climate resilience. In response to Rep. Boenke (R – Kenniwick), staff said WA can link with CA and Quebec, which have a cooperative trading program. Both CA and Quebec have accelerated emissions reductions recently, and this has not disrupted the program, particularly with the drop in emissions from the pandemic. Suquamish Tribe suggested some changes that recognize role tribes play in climate change. Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe said amendments met tribal needs. Kalispel Tribe suggested an amendment for reducing burdens on EITEs (Energy-Intensive Trade Exposed enterprises). Quinault Tribe also mentioned amendments and noted that sea level rise threatens tribe. Snoqualmie Tribe said that tribes speak for themselves, and that opposition by others does not reflect tribal views. Yakama Nation said bill does meet needs for carbon reduction. Tulalip Tribe said it would be good to have 10% set-aside for tribal programs. Governor’s Office said bill will support more resilient communities and environment; we are willing to continue dialog with frontline communities. Department of Health mentioned health benefits of reducing carbon emissions, particularly for frontline communities. Department of Ecology said bill addresses environmental justice. Climate Solutions said bill could be strengthened to address natural gas emissions. The Nature Conservancy said air quality is major issue addressed by bill. Rep. Vandana (D – Bellevue) said sea level rise is major threat. Washington Environment Council responded that this bill is part of set of bills that are needed. Washington Build Back Black Alliance said black communities suffer from air pollution and the bill provides opportunities for black communities to participate. Northwest Gas Association said the bill incorporates principles adopted by association. Black Lives Matter Alliance said the alliance works with tribes, and bill as amended would address equity. Washington Business Alliance said the bill would provide certainty for business investments. Environmental Defense Fund said bill provides WA a transformative climate policy.
Association of Washington Business said WA cannot attract more businesses if bill passes, and increased business costs will be passed on to consumers. Washington Trucking Association said fuel costs will have significant impact on trucking. Washington Farm Bureau also mentioned increases in fuel costs. Community to Community (farm workers) said cap-and-trade programs endanger frontline communities. Got Green (member of Front and Centered) said corporations can buy allowances and continue to pollute. Puget Sound Sage said the bill lowers the bar on good environmental justice policies. Directing projects to communities of color and setting up advisory committee are attempts to buy off frontline communities. Food Northwest said bill should be amended to incorporate some acceptable changes. 350 Seattle said bill does not meet needs of BIPOC communities. 350 WA (representing majority of 350 groups in state) also mentioned equity concerns. Washington Association of Wheat Growers said farmers would be disproportionately affected by legislation. Washington Policy Center mentioned bill’s costs to transportation and adds burdens from fuel users from the low carbon fuel standard. Alliance of Western Energy Consumers said bill needs revisions of EITE provisions.