OLYMPIA, Wash. — The State Supreme Court today dealt a blow to Gov. Jay Inslee on his signature issue: climate change.
But at the same time, he’s moving ahead on a separate initiative to make the fuel in our cars cleaner.
Inslee used administrative authority to put carbon emissions caps on industries in response to the climate crisis.
But in a 5-4 decision today, the state Supreme Court said those rules went too far by also affecting companies that don’t directly burn fossil fuel.
By chance, the ruling comes on the same day as a Senate hearing on a Clean Fuel Standard for motor vehicles.
“We need to act now to address the climate emergency. Our highest emitting sector is transportation and we have a responsibility to address that,” Leah Missik of Climate Solutions testified.
The proposed law would require greater use of biofuels, for example, to reduce the greenhouse gases created by cars and trucks.
“The need for the clean fuel standard is even more apparently today than it was apparent yesterday,” said Gov. Inslee at a news conference shortly after the Supreme Court’s decision was announced.
Opponents cite studies showing a clean fuel standard might raise the price of gas dramatically -- upwards of 50 cents a gallon.
“My No. 1 concern with low carbon fuel standard is the impact that fuel increased costs will be on building trades members and others in the lowest paid work force that has to commute to their jobs,” said Lee Newgent of the Affordable Fuel Washington.
Commuters we met were worried.
Asked how he balances it out, Tyler Lanham said, “I’m not sure but I mean gas is already suffering gas taxes and everything else, it’s already expensive enough.”
“I’m all for protecting the environment, but I’m also trying to get by daily in life so it’s a hard split,” said Cindy Colgrove.
Washington is the only state on the West Coast that doesn’t have a Clean Fuel Standard. California, Oregon and British Columbia already do.
Asked if there is no impact on the price of gas, Gov. Inslee responded, “Not in long term. I don’t believe so. Right now, in Oregon, in the real world, this has been in effect since 2018 in Oregon, the impact has been a penny or less if any. Repeat. It’s marginal,” Inslee said.
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