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This is what Washington is now charging carbon polluters

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The results are in from Washington's first-ever carbon credit auction.

The cost to pollute in Washington state is going for $48.50 per ton of carbon dioxide.

This year, the state is implementing a new cap-and-invest program. Business and government agencies cannot surpass a certain pollution amount, unless they buy credits to offset their emissions.

The first auction was last month, and results announced today show it was highly competitive.

The floor price for carbon allowances was set by the state at $22.20. But all 6 million credits were sold for $48.50 each, more than doubling the minimum. The Department of Ecology reports that the auction ranked high on a competitiveness scale called the "Herfindahl-Hirschman Index."

RELATED: Bidding for the right to pollute, WA's first carbon allowance auction

The state will hold four auctions per year. The state will continue to auction off credits, and qualified bidders can put theirs up for resale.

As KUOW's John Ryan has reported, some big polluters, including fuel suppliers and the state’s two largest universities, need to make steep and immediate pollution reductions of 7% a year. That, or buy their way out of that mandate at the auctions.

But many of the biggest climate culprits, like oil refineries, pulp mills, and other manufacturers don’t have to cut pollution as soon or as fast as others due to fears they might take their businesses and jobs elsewhere.

We don't know how many companies participated — or how much they each spent. That information is protected for privacy.

The state Ecology Department will release a report March 28 with more details on the revenue raised from the auction.

This money will go toward funding climate mitigation programs and clean energy projects.

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