On April 29, 2014, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee signed an executive order outlining a series of “next steps” to reduce carbon pollution within the state, including the creation of a market based carbon pollution cap program and to work towards eventually eliminating the use of electricity produced by coal.  Governor Inslee explained that the executive order is the next step in a course of action set by the state in 2008 when it passed a law that generally required a reduction of state-wide carbon pollution, but did not include specific mechanisms to achieve its carbon reduction goal.

In total, the executive order calls for action in six areas:

  • Reduction of carbon emissions through a new “cap-and-market” plan;
  • To end the use of electricity generated by coal;
  • To develop “clean” transportation options and cleaner fuels;
  • Accelerate development and deployment of clean energy technology;
  • Improve the energy efficiency of the places where citizens work and live; and
  • Reduce the state government’s carbon footprint

In order to help create the proposed carbon pollution cap program, the executive order establishes a “Carbon Emissions Reduction Taskforce” that must provide recommendations to the Governor on the design and eventual implementation of a market-based carbon pollution by November 21, 2014.  With regard to future reductions in coal-based electricity, the executive order directs state agencies to work with utilities within the state to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, the use of electrical power produced by coal, primarily focusing on the elimination of coal-based electricity that is imported from other states.

The executive order also notes that Governor Inslee – along with the Governors of California, Oregon, and the Premier of British Columbia – is a signee of the Pacific Coast Climate Action Plan on Climate and Energy.  The agreement provides that the participating governments will jointly work towards carbon reductions in the region.  As part of this agreement, Washington and Oregon are to establish carbon reduction programs similar to those already existing in California and British Columbia.  As such, the executive order helps further achieve these goals.

To view the executive order, click here.