Climate Change Bill Laying WCI Groundwork Fails in Washington

By Published On: May 1, 2009

This week saw yet another setback in the push for a multi-state greenhouse gas cap-and-trade system. A bill to establish a state climate change program in Washington state failed as lawmakers adjourned their 2009 session April 26. The bill was a necessity for participating in the Western Climate Initiative multi-state carbon cap-and-trade market. ā€œIā€™m disappointed that the clock ran out before the Legislature completed some of its work,ā€ said Governor Chris Gregoire, as lawmakers filed home from Olympia. Gregoire pointed to the unfinished business of school funding and offender sentencing, but did not mention climate change in her statement on the end of the session. Failure of the legislation in Washington shows skepticism among state legislators across the West to acting on climate change. Legislation to move ahead with work to participate in the Western Climate Initiative failed in Montana last month. In Arizona and Utah lawmakers are asking the governors not to participate in WCI. Utah legislators have sent the governor a resolution asking the state to withdraw and the Arizona House has passed a bill aimed at withdrawal (Circuit, April 3, 2009). Faced with business opposition, Washington state lawmakers watered down SB 5138 before it passed the state Senate, removing cap-and-trade provisions (Circuit, March 20, 2009). Then, in the Washington state House, the watered down bill did not make it to the floor. Instead, a committee returned the measure to the state Senate for reconsideration. Under the rules of the state Legislature, the move keeps the bill alive for possible reconsideration when lawmakers return next year. In Oregon, a bill, SB 80, to establish a state climate change program that could involve a carbon cap-and-trade market remains alive in the state Senate. The Senate Environment & Natural Resources Committee passed the bill April 28. Meanwhile, a House panel turned down another measure, HB 2493, that would have prevented the state from creating a carbon cap-and-trade program.

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