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Clean Air Rule

On Dec. 15, 2017, Thurston County Superior Court ruled on parts of the Clean Air Rule. As we continue to understand the court's decision, we are suspending the rule's compliance requirements. Facilities covered by the rule are still required to report their emissions for the Greenhouse Gas Reporting program. We'll continue to update our website as the legal process unfolds.

Washington’s water supplies, air quality, and infrastructure are at risk because carbon pollution is causing the climate to change. To help slow the impacts of climate change, we adopted the Clean Air Rule. This rule requires businesses that are responsible for large amounts of emissions to cap and reduce their carbon pollution. 

Comment on facility baselines and reduction requirements

Facilities under the Clean Air Rule were given regulatory orders telling them their baseline greenhouse gas emissions and reduction requirements. Their baseline is the average of their covered emissions that they reported to us from 2012-2016.

We are accepting comments on the regulatory orders from Dec. 18, 2017- Jan. 22, 2018. You can submit your comments online or mail your comments to Chris Conn, Department of Ecology, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504. You also have the right to request a hearing. If we find there is public interest to hold a hearing, we will extend the comment period to allow at least 30 days notice. We will review comments and finalize orders by Jan. 30, 2018. Facilities and the public have 30 days to appeal the final orders.

Businesses and organizations covered by the Clean Air Rule

In 2017, businesses and organizations that are responsible for 100,000 metric tons of carbon pollution annually are required to cap and gradually reduce their emissions. Every three years, the threshold to be covered by the rule is lowered by 5,000 metric tons. This brings more emitters into the program. In 2035, the threshold reaches 70,000 metric tons, where it will remain.

Businesses categorized as energy-intensive, trade-exposed industries and fuel importers begin participating in 2020.

Types of organizations covered by the rule

  • Natural gas distributors
  • Petroleum fuel producers and importers
  • Metal, cement, pulp and paper, and glass manufacturers
  • Power plants
  • Waste facilities

The Clean Air Rule addresses environmental justice

The Clean Air Rule establishes an Environmental Justice Advisory Committee who will use some of the emission reduction units from the program to address environmental concerns affecting highly impacted communities. The committee will be made up of people who are well-informed on the principles of environmental justice and who represent communities of color, low-income populations, and environmental justice interests from geographically diverse areas of the state.

We will oversee the formation and membership of the committee. We will also determine the number of emission reduction units available to the committee. We anticipate that it may take several compliance periods before there are enough reductions to support the Environmental Justice Committee’s priorities.