Inslee draws a line in the battle on clean fuels law

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee badly wants a clean fuels standard in Washington.

He came close nine months ago but legislation he embraced and House Democrats approved lapsed in the Senate Transportation Committee. …

The same moderate Democrat, Sen. Steve Hobbs of Lake Stevens, is running the transportation committee. And he still views a low carbon fuel standard as a pricey and ineffective tool for reducing tailpipe emissions, the largest source of climate-damaging pollutants in Washington.

Enough of Hobbs’ Democratic colleagues apparently shared this position last session to deter caucus leaders from pulling the bill out of the committee and to the Senate floor for a vote. …

Hobbs’ preference for carbon fees, which Washington voters have rejected twice, or a cap-and-trade system, which California has instituted, are influenced by a December 2018 review of California’s suite of climate policies by its nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s office.

That study found “a broad consensus” among economists that pricing carbon with a cap-and-trade system or a carbon tax is the most cost-effective way to reduce emissions. In contrast, some of the major policies aimed at reducing emissions in the transportation sector — such as the low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) and financial incentives for zero-emission vehicles — appear to be much more costly.

California’s lawmakers “might want to consider relying more heavily on cap-and-trade” to achieve its emission reduction targets, authors of the study recommended. …

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