Washington passed its Clean Air Act in 1967 with the purpose of preserving, protecting, and enhancing air quality for current and future generations. A lot has changed since the passage of that law and now the climate crisis requires a new set of tools to reduce our climate pollution and better equip our state to meet the law’s intent.
To do this, Senator Carlyle and Representative Fitzgibbon have introduced SB 6628/HB 2892 to bring the Clean Air Act into the 21st Century and fill a key gap in the state’s ability to address climate pollution. On January 16th, the Supreme Court issued a long-anticipated decision on the Clean Air Rule where they ruled that the State has the authority to regulate stationary sources of greenhouse gas emissions such as gas-fired power plants and steel producers, but not fuel distributors and other indirect sources of climate pollution through the use of an emissions standard. In its decision, the Court pointed to the Legislature as the body that needed to update the Clean Air Act to give the state adequate authority to regulate these indirect sources of greenhouse gas emissions.
The bill responds to this ruling and addresses the question regarding authority for regulating indirect emitters. The bill adds language to the state Clean Air Act that the Department of Ecology “may require persons who produce or distribute fossil fuels or other products that emit greenhouse gases in Washington to comply with air quality standards, emission standards, or emission limits on emissions of greenhouse gases.” It may be hard to believe that in 2020 the state lacks the basic authority to require pollution reduction from fossil fuel producers and distributors, but that’s what the Court found, and why they noted the opportunity for a legislative fix. The Court also did acknowledge in its decision that fact that we do have a climate crisis. Legislators must provide the state the full range of tools needed to address the climate crisis and sharply reduce climate pollution in Washington to protect our children’s future.
SB 6628/HB 2892 is common sense update the state’s authority and works alongside other bills in play this session, including updating our state’s climate pollution limits (HB 2311/SB 6272), and putting in place solutions to move the state forward in achieving those reductions, notably the Clean Fuel Standard (HB 1110), Transportation For All (HB 2688), Buy Clean Buy Fair (HB 2744) and Zero-Emissions Vehicles (HB 1999/SB 5811).