Gov. Inslee’s cap-and-invest proposal draws criticism from environmentalists

Jan 21, 2021, 5:16 AM | Updated: Jan 25, 2021, 1:36 pm
Initiative 732, I-732, carbon tax, carbon fee, climate change, cap-and-invest, climate...
The Tesoro Corp. refinery, in Anacortes, Wash. Gas flares like this are part of normal plant operations. (AP)

A climate change proposal from the governor that would establish a cap-and-invest system in Washington is drawing questions and critiques — even from environmental advocates.

Senate Bill 5126, also known as the Washington Climate Commitment Act, would create a cap-and-invest system that limits fossil fuel emissions for large companies by capping pollution amounts and requiring polluters to buy allowances to pollute. Revenue from the sale of these allowances would be invested into green energy and other climate efforts.

“A well-designed cap-and-invest program is the most widely used program in the world, and we’ve learned the lessons of others, and we’ve listened and thought about it a great deal relative to the applicability of Washington state,” said Senator Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle), one of the bill’s sponsors, during a committee hearing on the bill this week.

Lawmakers propose massive gas tax increase to fund transportation

In addition to starting the cap-and-invest system by 2023, the bill would establish a Climate Task Force, climate commitment program, and an Environmental Justice and Equity Advisory Panel specifically for the cap-and-invest program.

Proponents who gave testimony said that market-based solutions like a cap-and-invest system are a great way to bridge the gap between climate progress and economic concerns.

“If we really want to halve emissions by 2030, this bill is our best chance,” said Sarah Severn with the Low Carbon Prosperity Institute. “It will make our economy stronger, our residents healthier, our state more competitive, and our businesses more innovative and resilient.”

However, despite the fact that the program would set a cap for carbon emissions, opponents worry that it would simply allow large companies to buy their way out of making any real changes. Some pointed to the fact that British Petroleum spoke in support of the bill at the hearing.

“Cap-and-trade policies are set up to benefit corporations that are the biggest contributors to global warming and our climate crisis,” said Iris Antman with climate advocacy group 350 Seattle. “These corporations would pay a price that is far too low, and then would be allowed to continue polluting.”

Some also referenced the racial justice side of the issue. According to a 2018 EPA study, communities of color are most likely to live near large polluters such as refineries or factories, and be negatively impacted by those emissions.

“Growing up next to the Nucor Steel Factory [in West Seattle], I had to live with smokestacks outside my window, my family and neighbors dying from cancer and having heart disease, and many suffering from asthma,” said Jill Mangaliman, director of environmental advocacy group Got Green. “This is not a philosophy, but a reality for our impacted communities of color.”

Nucor Seattle says its factory does not have smokestacks, as its operations primarily give off steam.

Local News

Climate Pledge Arena...
Associated Press

Climate Pledge Arena ready to get Kraken for hockey debut

The first event ever inside Climate Pledge Arena — whether it will be considered the official first event or not — was far from a soft opening.
1 day ago
shipping containers...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Approximately 40 shipping containers adrift off Washington coast

Approximately 40 shipping containers were lost off a ship 43 miles west of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, according to the United States Coast Guard.
1 day ago
Kathryn Altena

Gov. Inslee, Washington groups prepare to welcome Afghan refugees

In the coming months, 1,400 Afghan refugees are expected to pass through the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport upon their arrival in Washington.
1 day ago
King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski...
Nick Bowman

King County Councilmember accused of history of ‘verbally abusive’ behavior toward female staff

King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski is facing accusations detailing a history of verbally abusive behavior toward female staff members.
1 day ago
Microsoft campus, vaccine...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Racial harassment allegations at Microsoft campus construction site in Redmond

Racial harassment on the job — that’s what a Black construction employee says he was dealing with for months at the build site on Microsoft’s campus in Redmond.
1 day ago
Jaime Herrera Beutler...
Nick Bowman

Washington Rep. Herrera Beutler breaks from GOP party line again over Bannon contempt vote

Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler was among nine Republicans who voted in favor of holding Steve Bannon in contempt on Thursday.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles


Medicare open enrollment for 2022 starts Oct. 15 and SHIBA can help!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
Gov. Inslee’s cap-and-invest proposal draws criticism from environmentalists