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Inslee moves Washington a step closer to linking its carbon market to CA-Quebec


(The Center Square) – Even as Washington state’s Climate Commitment Act faces repeal this November via Initiative 2117, Gov. Jay Inslee has signed a bill into law that will further align the state’s cap-and-trade program with the joint California-Quebec program.

Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 6058 authorizes the state Department of Ecology to change the length of compliance periods under carbon tax credit trading – cap-and-trade – as part of the Climate Commitment Act of 2021, modifies definitions and policies related to electricity importing and reports, increases the percent of allowances a covered or opt-in entity may buy from 10% to 25% in a single auction, and continues the prohibition on a general market participant from owning more than 10% of total allowances issued in a calendar year until Washington’s market is linked with another jurisdiction.

“This bill will make it easier to link the Washington program with the California-Quebec program,” Inslee said during Thursday afternoon’s bill-signing ceremony from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 46 headquarters in Kent. “A linked market provides a larger carbon market with more stable prices, helping to contain compliance costs, enabling more investments in decarbonization, and benefitting all Washingtonians.”

Bill sponsor Sen. Joe Nguyen, D-White Center, expressed similar sentiments.

“We all know Washington can’t stop climate change all on our own – working with other governments like this is how we take the next step forward in our work to reduce carbon pollution and support a green, sustainable economy,” he said in a news release. “The Climate Commitment Act is providing tremendous benefits for the people of Washington – helping limit carbon pollution and enabling investments in energy efficiency, environmental protection, clean transportation, and so much more. Linkage will make the CCA even better, with a more predictable and stable market that’s better for everyone involved.”

Both men’s assessments line up with an October 2023 report by the Department of Ecology that found a larger, linked market would result in more predictability when it comes to allowance prices and incentivize businesses to increase investments to curb their greenhouse gas emissions.

The report warned that failing to pursue linkage could doom the Washington’s program.

Also threatening to doom Washington’s program is Initiative 2117, which will be before voters this November.

I-2117 would repeal the CCA and get rid of Washington’s carbon market.

Voter advocacy group Let’s Go Washington got I-2117 on the ballot in large part due to the CCA’s impact on gas prices, with CCA opponents arguing that carbon auctions drove up gas prices as much as 50 cents a gallon last year.

“The main issue is that radical progressives always put their own interests ahead of what’s best for Washington state voters,” Let’s Go Washington Press Secretary Hallie Balch said earlier this month. “Instead of considering that people are already struggling with keeping up with the money muncher that is inflation, another tax is thrown onto the highest recorded gas prices in recent history. And for what? So Jay Inslee’s green special interests can pocket more cash into their failing pet projects.”