The CCA also puts environmental justice and equity at the center of climate policy, making sure communities that bear the greatest burdens from air pollution today see cleaner, healthier air as the state cuts greenhouse gases. Finally, funds from the auction of emission allowances will support new investments in climate-resiliency programs, clean transportation, and addressing health disparities across the state.

Anacortes refinery in a blue hexagon with rounded corners and a circular icon showing a chart with an upward trajectory

A market-based solution

In the CCA, the Legislature directed us to design and implement a cap-and-invest program to reduce statewide GHG emissions. This program works by setting an emissions limit, or cap, and then lowering that cap over time to ensure Washington meets the GHG reduction commitments set in state law.

Only the second such program in the U.S., cap-and-invest uses the powers of supply and demand to incentivize businesses to cut their emissions, using whatever strategy they think is best.

Building a sustainable market

The Legislature also tasked Ecology with designing the program so that it could, potentially, be linked with similar programs in California and Québec, which already share a combined carbon market. Based on an independent economic analysis commissioned as part of our current rulemaking for Chapter 173-446 WAC, Ecology will begin a public process to explore the possibility of linking in early 2023.

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Cleaner air for overburdened communities

The CCA aligns with the requirements of the Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) Act and includes provisions to ensure communities in Washington that are disproportionately impacted by climate change and air pollution benefit from cleaner air.

In addition to the GHG reductions that will result from the cap-and-invest program, the CCA also directs us to reduce "criteria" air pollutants — such as ozone and particulate matter — in overburdened communities highly impacted by air pollution.

Funding allocation and accountability

The CCA also directs the Environmental Justice Council to make recommendations to the Legislature on how auction revenue should be used and requires agencies using funding from CCA accounts to report their progress toward environmental justice goals to the Council.

A close up photo of bike handlebars from the rider's perspective, riding along a leaf-strewn road in the fall

Investing in the future

Under the law, proceeds from the CCA allowance auctions must be invested in critical climate projects focused on improving clean transportation options — increasing climate resilience in ecosystems and communities — and addressing issues of environmental justice and health inequity in Washington.

Importantly, the CCA requires that at least 35% of funds be invested in projects that benefit overburdened communities, and a minimum of 10% go to projects with tribal support.

Available tribal grants

The Tribal Carbon Offset Assistance Grant provides funding for tribes to plan, design, and assess the feasibility of carbon offset projects on federally-recognized tribal lands in Washington. The Tribal Consultation Grant provides funding for eligible tribes to consult on how CCA auction revenue is spent.

Both grants are open to tribal members only. Click the links above to find out how to apply!