US: Washington and Oregon open to regional approach

05 June 2014 20:50 Source:ICIS

Washington and Oregon are exploring a regional programme to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) draft rules on how to cut emissions from existing power plants, creating the opportunity to link with California’s carbon market.

The EPA, a government agency, unveiled draft rules on Monday that require states to reduce overall emissions from the power sector by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030 through several options, including cap-and-trade programmes and energy efficiency measures ( see EDCM 2 June 2014 ).

Market participants said the rules could prompt states to join either California’s carbon market or the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which regulates emissions from the power sector in nine northeastern states. States could also opt to create their own market-based programme or go with unit-by-unit standards.

Oregon and Washington have been seen as the more likely places where California could expand its more comprehensive carbon scheme. Washington and Oregon officials said they are evaluating the draft rules and trying to determine the best way to comply.

Oregon, Washington open to regional programme

Governors from both states praised the EPA’s draft rule on Monday, and the agency’s willingness to give states the flexibility to explore regional programmes.

“We asked for flexibility to work with other states on 111D and believe a regional approach will be important if we want to address imported coal power from other states under the EPA rule,” Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s spokeswoman said. Washington is open to a regional programme with California, she added.

Inslee announced in April plans to create a task force aimed at designing and implementing a cap-and-trade programme in the state, and he also called to end coal imports ( see EDCM 29 April 2014 ).

A spokeswoman for Oregon’s governor John Kitzhaber said the state is encouraged the EPA allowed states “to build on existing programmes and partnerships,” but the state has not decided yet how best to comply with the rules.

In a statement Monday, California cap-and-trade regulator Air Resources Board chairwoman Mary Nichols said she is looking forward to working with Oregon, Washington and other states in a regional approach to cut carbon emissions.

California signed the Pacific Coast Collaboration last year with Washington, Oregon and Canada’s British Columbia to work together to price carbon emissions. The pact would not create a formal linkage of any programmes though. Dan X. McGraw

By Dan X. McGraw