Emissions Intensive Trade Exposed industries (EITEs)

The Climate Commitment Act creates a separate emissions reduction pathway for about 40 facilities and businesses that qualify as “Emissions-Intensive, Trade-Exposed” industries, or “EITEs.”

EITE facilities are core industries, primarily manufacturing, that release large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions and face significant national or global competition for their products. Special consideration was given to EITEs in the Climate Commitment Act because, if faced with sudden, substantial changes to their operations, they could limit operations, close or transfer production elsewhere without achieving a reduction in worldwide emissions.

Washington state is not the only government to make special considerations for these types of industries — provisions for EITEs are common in most carbon pricing systems. Other programs frequently use a slightly different term — "energy-intensive, trade-exposed industries." The categories of businesses eligible as EITEs in Washington are identified by the Legislature in the statute, based on federal industrial classification codes.

The separate emissions reduction pathway for these industries was designed to incentivize early investment in efficiency and process improvements; to facilitate financing for larger, longer-term decarbonization, and protect the jobs and investments that these businesses bring to Washington.

The Port Townsend Paper Corporation

Pulp and paper mills are among the categories of business eligible for "emissions-intensive, trade-exposed" provisions in the Climate Commitment Act.

How the EITE program works

Under the Climate Commitment Act, most facilities or businesses in Washington that produce more than 25,000 metric tons of carbon emissions a year are required to obtain emissions allowances. Some of these allowances are sold in auctions, while others are awarded at no cost.

Under the law, EITEs will be given emissions allowances at no cost until 2034. The amount of no-cost allowances an EITE receives, however, depends on several factors:

  • During the first compliance period, 2023-2026, EITEs will receive allowances equal to 100% of their emissions based on a carbon intensity benchmark for their emissions for 2015-2019. The carbon intensity benchmark establishes the amount of emissions a facility generates in order to produce given volume of product. That means that a facility’s total emissions could rise if their sales expand. EITEs can also choose to instead use a mass-based baseline that does not reflect production volumes.
  • During the second compliance period, 2027-2030, EITEs will receive allowances equal to 97% of their carbon intensity or mass-based baseline.
  • During the third compliance period, 2031-2034, EITEs will receive allowances equal to 94% of their carbon intensity or mass-based baseline.

If an EITE facility’s emissions exceed the amount of no-cost allowances it is given, it will have to purchase additional allowances to cover its full emissions. If an EITE facility emits fewer emissions than its no-cost allowances, it can bank the unused allowances for future use, or sell them to other emitters to generate revenue to invest in lower carbon technologies.

EITE rulemaking

The initial categories of industries eligible for the EITE program are set in the law, but the Climate Commitment Act requires Ecology to develop objective criteria for classifying additional or new facilities as EITEs starting in 2027.

We announced the EITE rulemaking on Aug. 4, 2021 and proposed rule language on Dec. 22. The final rule was adopted on June 1, 2022.

EITE legislation addressing future emission reductions

As required by the Climate Commitment Act, Ecology proposed agency request legislation (HB 1682) for the 2022 legislative session to create a pathway from 2035-2050 for energy-intensive, trade-exposed industries to achieve their proportionate share of the state's emissions reduction limits. 

Consistent with legislative direction, we developed this legislation in consultation with Tribes, emissions-intensive, trade-exposed businesses, covered entities, environmental advocates, and overburdened communities.

While this draft legislation did not pass, the CCA already outlines a compliance pathway for EITEs through 2034, so there will be no short-term changes in emissions requirements for EITEs.

Originally, the CCA tied the use of auction revenue to the passage of this draft legislation. However, the Legislature addressed this issue in separate legislation, ESSB 5974, which passed both houses and was delivered to the Governor for signature on March 11, 2022. This means that the use of CCA funds for important climate projects is no longer tied to the passage of any additional legislation.