Washington's Clean Air Rule: Good Intentions, Wrong Approach

We all want clean air, healthy communities, and to do our part to reduce carbon emissions. That’s because a healthy environment is a big part of what makes Washington a great place to live, work, and do business. And as a leader in clean energy, Washington State plays a key role in setting an example for the rest of the country when it comes to reducing emissions.

Our position as a national leader is one of the reasons why the State’s recent Clean Air Rule is so problematic. The Clean Air Rule imposes a carbon cap on certain Washington manufacturers, natural gas providers, and fuel distributors, beginning in 2020 and gradually covering more businesses as time goes on. But the rule, meant to reduce carbon emissions from power plants and manufacturers, actually does the opposite and will harm both the environment and our economy.

The main issue the Clean Air Rule creates for the environment is something called “leakage.” That’s when a regulation or law has the unintended consequence of pushing, let’s say a manufacturer, out of the state. Higher regulatory costs mean a manufacturer will be incentivized to leave – taking their emissions with them. If a manufacturer leaves Washington, it’s possible they will move to another jurisdiction with weaker environmental regulations, or another country like China. And few power grids rely as heavily on clean hydro power as Washington State.

As the Clean Air Rule increases costs for power and the manufacture of goods, it’s likely those businesses could reduce investments here or move to places where it’s cheaper to operate. In the meantime, increased costs may be passed to families in the form of higher energy bills and more expensive fuel, products, and services.

Affordable Fuel Washington supports the continued reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through innovation and investment. This proven mix has led to our state’s national leadership on clean energy and will help keep fuel prices and consumer goods affordable for everyone.

Our elected leaders must consider the true costs and environmental impacts of rules and legislations. Click here to tell the governor and the legislature to ensure fuel remains affordable for all as the state continues its progress towards a cleaner environment.