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Inslee's Carbon Reduction Act Gets First Hearing In Olympia

Ted S. Warren
Fuel refineries such as this one at Tesoro Corp. in Anacortes, Wash., are among those likely affected by Governor Jay Inslee's sweeping proposal to limit carbon emissions with a market-based cap and trade system.

Governor Jay Inslee’s plan to put a cap on carbon emissions and make big polluters pay got its first hearing in Olympia today. The bill would charge the state’s top emitters for each ton released, starting in July 2016. 

Dueling interest groups launched prior to the hearing, each lining up big coalitions in support and against the governor’s proposal.  So many people signed up to testifybefore the House Environment committee that Tuesday's public hearing was continued to Thursday.

Jeff Johnson, the president of the Washington State Labor Council joined the state’s largest environmental and social justice groups in the new Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy. He said this is likely the most important bill he will ever testify about.

“Climate change truly is an existential issue. It impacts our environment, it impacts jobs and the economy, it impacts public health and safety. It exacerbates inequality. And it challenges our sense of common purpose,” he said.

Opposition to the plan came from a new group called the Washington Climate Collaborative. Kris Johnson, the president of the Association of Washington Business, said the state is already a leader in reducing carbon and fighting climate change. But they don’t want more government regulation.

“At the end of the day, this becomes a competitiveness issue. We’re concerned about the economic impacts to jobs, to the environment to the employers if we are to go forward with this piece,” Johnson said.

One small farmer, for example, said she fears the higher cost of fuel and fertilizer could keep her from purchasing more fuel efficient equipment. 

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to