Aim to cap and reduce carbon pollution

 The Washington Department of Ecology is launching an effort to limit carbon pollution with adoption of a first-of-its-kind clean air rule that caps and reduces carbon emissions.

The new clean air rule “marks a watershed moment in our country’s history,” said Ecology Director Maia Bellon in a press release.

“We are taking leadership under our Clean Air Act, adopting a strong and practical plan to reduce greenhouse gases, and doing our fair share to tackle climate change,” Bellon said.

Based on research showing that carbon pollution is the primary cause of climate change, Gov. Jay Inslee last year directed Ecology to cap and reduce carbon pollution under Washington’s Clean Air Act.

The rule, which takes effect Monday (Oct. 17), was developed after months of meetings with stakeholders, and public review and input, according to Ecology.

Under the new rule, businesses that are responsible for 100,000 metric tons of carbon pollution annually will be required to cap and then gradually reduce their emissions.

If a business cannot limit its own emissions, it has other options, according to Ecology.

It could develop a project that reduces carbon pollution in Washington, such as an energy efficiency program. Businesses could also comply by buying carbon credits from others or from other approved carbon markets.

The plan relies on businesses to trade independently among themselves and with other markets. All emissions reductions, projects and trading would be validated by independent auditors with oversight from Ecology.

Natural gas distributors, petroleum fuel producers and importers, power plants, metal manufacturers, waste facilities, and state and federal facilities would be included in the plan. They need to show their emissions are declining by an average of 1.7 percent a year starting in 2017.

Washington is particularly vulnerable to a warming climate, Ecology said. Communities in the state depend on snow-fed water supplies to provide drinking water, irrigation for agriculture, and about 65 percent of the state’s electrical power.

Shellfish, which are a major industry on Washington’s coast, are susceptible to ocean acidification — created when carbon dioxide reacts with seawater. And in eastern Washington, increasing numbers of wildfires threaten air quality and the health of people with asthma and other breathing difficulties.

For more information about the Clean Air Rule, visit Ecology’s website at