Skip to main content

You make this possible. Support our independent, nonprofit newsroom today.

Give Now

WA dems make the case to keep signature environmental law

caption: Car getting gas at a gas station in the University District July 19, 2023
Enlarge Icon
Car getting gas at a gas station in the University District July 19, 2023
Juan Pablo Chiquiza

A GOP-backed initiative to repeal the Climate Commitment Act will likely appear on Washington voters' ballots in November.

The act's most contentious aspect is a cap and trade system that charges companies for emitting carbon into the atmosphere.

RELATED: Republicans, Democrats, carbon, and you. Debating Washington's cap and trade

Backers of the initiative said that carbon auctions hurt Washingtonians through higher prices at the gas pump.

"We’ve been adamant that this would impact people’s budget and their utility bills, that it would raise the cost of home heating," said Representative Mary Dye, the ranking member of the House Energy and Environment Committee.

"It’s hurt every single family’s budget in the state of Washington for this climate commitment goal."

Democratic lawmakers hold majorities in the Senate and House along with the Governor's Mansion.

They’re using this legislative session to consider tweaks to the law before voters likely decide on the fate of the cap and trade system in November.

Democrats have bills that would create more transparency for fuel prices and they’re looking to link Washington’s carbon auction with California and Quebec.

Proponents of the Climate Commitment Act are also talking about the benefits of the bill.

Money from the climate auction is going towards transportation projects and mitigation efforts.

State Senator Joe Nguyen, the chair of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee, recently visited Slater Road near the Lummi Indian Reservation. The road is a throughway in and out of the reservations and has been blocked by regular floods.

RELATED: Surge of new EV charging stations coming to Washington

He said that some Climate Commitment Act funds will be used to lift and harden the road.

"Yes, fuel cost is a major concern that I have," he said, "but so is my kids having asthma, so would be getting cut off from your community because of climate change."

Listen to Soundside’s full conversation with Sen. Joe Nguyen by clicking the play icon at the top of this story.

Why you can trust KUOW