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Clean Air Rule

In March 2018, Thurston County Superior Court ruled that parts of the Clean Air Rule are invalid. The Superior Court's ruling prevents us from implementing the Clean Air Rule regulations that cap and gradually reduce major sources of carbon pollution. This means that compliance with the rule currently is suspended. On May 14, 2018 we published a media release and filed an appeal with the Washington State Supreme Court.

Under a separate Ecology rule, facilities covered by the Clean Air Rule still are required to report their emissions for the Greenhouse Gas Reporting program.

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. 

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.