Radio Report: Lawmakers skeptical carbon auction linking to larger California/Quebec market would lower prices


The state Department of Ecology announced Thursday it will pursue linking Washington’s cap-and-trade program with the larger California-Québec carbon market. Ecology officials are hopeful it could lower prices for carbon dioxide emission allowances. But some state lawmakers believe it may have the opposite effect. John Sattgast reports from Olympia.

 Radio Report Transcript

SATTGAST: Since January, Washington’s cap-and-trade program has placed a price on carbon emissions, forcing oil refineries, utilities, and other businesses to pay for credits at auction that would allow them to emit carbon dioxide. The cost of those credits are three times higher than predicted and have driven Washington’s gasoline prices through the roof.

Ecology officials believe linking to the larger California/Québec carbon market will bring prices down. But the ranking Republican on the House Environmental and Energy Committee, Representative Mary Dye, is not so sure.

DYE: “Nothing that passes the California Legislature seems to make life cheaper. They’ve got higher energy prices, high housing prices. So, I don’t see the combination as a for-sure guarantee that prices will lower.”

SATTGAST: Dye says Ecology got it wrong when forecasting auction prices. And she worries bureaucrats are making a bigger mistake that could cost Washington consumers more.

Lawmakers may have the chance to weigh in on aligning Washington’s program with California when the Legislature convenes in January.

John Sattgast, the state Capitol.

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