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Ecology to revise proposed carbon cap rule

Ecology to revise proposed carbon cap rule

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The state Department of Ecology is delaying a new carbon cap by a few months, after interested parties raised questions about its impact.

The agency announced Friday that it withdrew its draft Clean Air Rule and will release an updated version in the spring. Originally the rule was slated for adoption June 1, but now that isn’t expected until late summer.

Ecology began working on the rule last fall, months after Gov. Inslee’s “cap and trade” bill failed to gain enough support in the Legislature last year. It would affect 35 of the biggest emitters of carbon dioxide, including four sites in Cowlitz County: the Weyerhaeuser Co. and KapStone Paper and Packaging pulp mills, Cowlitz County’s Headquarters Landfill and Puget Sound Energy’s Mint Farm Generating Station in Longview.

Cardinal Glass Industries in Winlock also would be affected.

The rule aims to slow climate change by pushing companies and government agencies to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, a major contributor to global warming. It is a separate approach to regulating carbon from Initiative 732, which voters are likely to decide on this coming fall.

It would affect sites that emit more than 100,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. Those that failed to reduce emissions would face heavy penalties.

The draft rule drew criticism from energy-intensive industries, such as pulp and paper mills, who said it could make their businesses less competitive.

Ecology spokeswoman Camille St. Onge said the revised rule will address concerns from “the Washington manufacturers who are sensitive to the global pricing. We want to make sure they’re not going to be economically harmed and that jobs are secure.”

St. Onge added that the updated rule will clarify compliance options. It also will update a proposed system that would allow emitters to purchase credits in lieu of reducing emissions.

“We appreciate all the helpful and constructive feedback we have received from stakeholders,” said Sarah Rees, Ecology’s special assistant on climate change policy, in a press release. “We’re listening and being responsive to ideas on how to best move the rule forward.”

The department said it would continue to engage stakeholders. Hearings originally scheduled for March will be rescheduled.

The Daily News, Longview, Wash.

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