Latest: Environmentalists regroup after Washington’s carbon plan fails

Green groups spent big in the last election in the Northwest.

  • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

    Shoreline Community College

Last year, environmentalists spent millions of dollars on state-level elections in Oregon and Washington, hoping to secure sympathetic legislative majorities (“Climate catalyst,” HCN, 11/24/14). They needed only two more seats in Washington’s Senate to tip the balance there, giving Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee an opportunity to pass laws to cut the state’s carbon emissions. They didn’t win those seats.

Inslee’s cap-and-trade proposal failed this year, and in late July, the governor criticized state lawmakers for doing “zero, nada, zilch” to address climate change in remarks to a local newspaper’s editorial board. Inslee had just directed the Washington Department of Ecology to begin a rulemaking process under the state’s Clean Air Act to cap carbon emissions. It’s not yet clear how aggressive the cap will be, and the process is expected to take at least a year. Activists are separately pursuing 2016 ballot initiatives that would tax carbon or otherwise charge polluters for emissions.  

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