Carbon Emissions Reduction Taskforce: Report to the Washington State Governor’s Office

Washington State Carbon Emissions Reduction Taskforce (CERT)

[Seattle Times] Gov. Jay Inslee wants to put a price on Washington carbon emissions to combat climate change, but other efforts also will be needed to comply with a state law that requires emission reductions of more than 25 percent over the next 20 years.

In the weeks ahead, Inslee is expected to propose legislation to price carbon, as well as propose other steps to boost public transportation, energy efficiency, solar power and the use of electric cars.

Inslee also is considering an executive order to create a standard for low-carbon transportation fuels, such as some forms of biodiesel…

Inslee put the spotlight on carbon pricing as he accepted a report from a 21-person citizens-task force that dug into two different approaches to put a cost on the emissions that scientists say are spurring climate change.

“I do think this should be a year for action. You set the stage for action,” Inslee said.

The task force looked at two options: an approach like one used by British Columbia that charges a carbon tax on coal, natural gas and petroleum fuels, and a system like one in California that places caps on carbon emissions and establishes a market to trade in the pollution allowances granted by the state.

The task force also looked at ways to try to protect low-income residents and vulnerable industries from the bite of carbon pricing through cuts in other taxes, recycling revenue or other financial aid.

The task force did not recommend one option over the other…

A state Office of Financial Management analysis indicates that placing a price on carbon emissions, whether through a tax or a cap-and-trade system, would have to soar from $12 a ton in 2015 to more than $170 a ton by 2035 to achieve all the required emission reductions.

That would add an additional $1.47 to the cost of a gallon of gasoline in 2035, and cause a substantial price increase in natural gas, according to the analysis.

State officials say that scenario was theoretical and developed to help the task force understand the effects of carbon pricing, but would never be proposed by Inslee.

“That’s not a price or policy that is at all under consideration,” said Chris Davis, the governor’s adviser on carbon markets. “That’s not the world where we are at.”

Instead, Inslee envisions a more modest price on carbon, which could then work with other measures to help drive down emissions, according to the governor’s aides…


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