Washington Ecology Launches Greenhouse Gases Rule

The Washington Department of Ecology this week began writing a rule to require the state's largest polluters to reduce their greenhouse gases and considering that businesses and organizations responsible for producing 100,000 metric tons or more of greenhouse gases be covered under the rule.

The Washington Department of Ecology this week began writing a rule to require the state's largest polluters to reduce their greenhouse gases. DoE announced it is considering that businesses and organizations responsible for producing 100,000 metric tons or more of greenhouse gases be covered under the rule. The types of businesses include natural gas distributors, petroleum fuel producers, factories, power plants, waste facilities, and metal manufacturers.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee in July 2015 directed DoE to strengthen existing air pollution rules and set limits on greenhouse gases to help meet emission reductions passed by the Legislature in 2008.

"This year's record-setting drought and wildfires are sobering examples of what our future could look like if we don't take action on climate change," said DoE Director Maia Bellon. "We need to do our part to protect what we have for future generations. We can't afford the cost of inaction."

DoE said greenhouse gases, most of which come from the carbon dioxide emitted from power plants, industry, and vehicles, are causing significant changes in the Earth's climate and influencing weather patterns in the Pacific Northwest, and that Washington is particularly vulnerable to a warming climate. "Communities depend on snow-fed water supplies to provide drinking water, irrigation for agriculture, and almost 75 percent of the state’s electrical power. Nearly 40 communities, including many of our largest population centers, are threatened by sea level rise along Washington's 2,300 miles of shoreline. And shellfish beds, which are a major industry on Washington's coast, are susceptible to ocean acidification – created when carbon dioxide reacts with seawater," according to the agency.

During the next year, DoE will hold a series of public meetings and hearings to gather input; a schedule of meetings and other ways to participate will be updated on its website within a few weeks. "We're at the beginning stages and want to craft the rule together with industry, tribes, environmental groups and the public to ensure clean air in Washington," Bellon said.

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