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Washington state officials working to finalize Clean Air Rule

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Washington state officials working to finalize Clean Air Rule

TheWashington Department of Ecology is moving ahead with finalizing its Clean AirRule, making tweaks to a previously propose draft, officials said during anApril 27 webinar.

"Earlierthis year the Department of Ecology proposed the Clean Air Rule that would capand reduce carbon pollution in Washington. Based on feedback we received fromenvironmental and industry stakeholders, we later withdrew the draft to allowmore time to continue working with stakeholders and to integrate suggestions.Since withdrawing the rule, we've considered many potential changes andrefinements," the Washington Department of Ecology said in an April 7statement.

Officialsin Washington are working on setting the emissions caps, and have proposed thecreation of an emissions reduction reserve that allows entities to grow andenter the state without compromising the emissions cap. Additionally, officialsare looking to generate more emissions reductions in Washington State bylimiting the use of out of state compliance instruments. These may includejurisdictional limits, quantity limits, vintage limits and time limits.

TheWashington Department of Ecology released a draft rule and economic analysis inDecember 2015, proposing that allowances and offset credits from externalmarkets, such as California, could be used for compliance under the Clean AirRule.

"Thisis not an allowance-based or an auction-based system. What people have to do isachieve their compliance obligations with a series of choices," Stu Clark,air quality program manager at the Washington Department of Ecology, saidduring the webinar.

Entitieswill have a variety of options to comply, such as going to external markets andbuying allowances in California or Quebec. However, "In terms of theseother markets, discussions are underway, but this is not a cap-and-tradeprogram that would link state to state with those existing markets," Clarksaid.

TheWashington Department of Ecology began writingthe rule in September 2015 to require the state's largest industries to reducetheir greenhouse gases, targeting any source responsible for producing 100,000metric tons or more of carbon dioxide equivalent. Sources that emit 10,000metric tons of CO2e per year have been required to provide annual emissionsreports to the department since 2012.

Washingtonintends to use the state's implementation plan under the Clean Power Plan asthe compliance mechanism for the power sector. The Clean Power Plan rule,promulgated under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, establishes statewidecarbon dioxide emission standards for existing fossil fuel-fired electricgenerating units with the goal of cutting CO2 emissions by 32% as measured froma 2005 baseline by 2030.

"TheClean Power Plan will be the policy vehicle for the power sector to reducegreenhouse gas emissions," according to a presentation provided during thewebinar. The power sector will have default requirements under the Clean AirRule until the Clean Power Plan is implemented.

Officialsin Washington will re-release the updated proposed rule and draft economicanalysis sometime in May, taking comments and holding additional stakeholdermeetings through the summer. It is expected that the rule will be finalized andadopted in late summer.

InJuly 2015, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee directedthe state Department of Ecology to develop a regulatory cap on carbon emissionsfor large sources, with a final rule due in the summer of 2016. Inslee said heissued the order because the state is not adequately enforcing its own 2008 lawto reach carbon reduction milestones due to the failure of the state legislatureto enact legislation he proposed.