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Clean Air, Clean Energy and Conservation Groups Move to Defend State’s Ability to Cut Carbon Pollution from Washington’s Biggest Polluters

Groups join lawsuit to preserve means to enact new rules aimed at limiting greenhouse gas emissions
Skagit County, Washington

From Devils Mountain Skagit County, Washington

wormwould / CC BY-NC 2.0
December 12, 2016
Olympia, WA —

National and regional clean air, clean energy, and conservation groups took legal steps last Friday to defend Washington state’s authority to enact the Clean Air Rule that requires reductions in carbon pollution from the area’s largest polluters. 

The Department of Ecology standards, finalized in September 2016, limit greenhouse gas emission from major polluters. Industry and utility interests challenged the rule seeking to have the state’s first broadly applicable rule limiting carbon pollution set aside.

Last Friday, Climate Solutions, Washington Environmental Council, and Natural Resources Defense Council, represented by Earthjustice, filed a motion in Thurston County Superior Court seeking to enter the case on the side of Washington state and defend the new rules. 

Amanda Goodin, Earthjustice attorney
“Washington has strong laws that protect citizens from pollution that harms human health and the environment.  The Department of Ecology acted well within its authority in issuing the Clean Air Rule to limit greenhouse gases from the largest polluters in the state.”

Vlad Gutman-Britten, Climate Solutions
“Acting to address global warming pollution will protect Washington’s clean air and water and create thousands of jobs in a new sustainable economy. States and cities must act now, and we’re intervening to make sure Washington State can protect its residents.”

Sasha Pollack, Washington Environmental Council:  
"The Governor's authority under the Clean Air Act is a crucial tool in improving the health of our communities, and in demonstrating Washington's leadership in addressing climate change. We feel that intervening to protect this authority is in the best interest of our membership and all Washingtonians."

Noah Long, Natural Resources Defense Council:
“The state of Washington has clear authority, and responsibility, to cut carbon pollution under its clean air laws.  We’re intervening in this case because we want to make sure polluters don’t undermine the state’s ability to take critical steps to help fend off climate disaster.”

Washington has adopted greenhouse gas emission reduction goals to ensure the state does its part to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.  The Clean Air Rule that is the subject of this litigation establishes greenhouse gas emission standards for the largest contributors to Washington’s emissions, including large industrial and power generation facilities, importers and distributors of transportation fuels, and natural gas distributors.  The Rule requires these major polluters to gradually reduce their emissions over time, and provides a range of compliance options to give covered entities flexibility in meeting the Rule’s requirements.  

The Clean Air Rule is a critical step toward ensuring Washington meets its statutory emission reduction goals to protect Washingtonians from the health, environmental, and economic harms that would result from a substantial rise in global temperatures.

A Thurston County Superior Court judge will hear oral argument on the legal challenges to the Clean Air Rule on March 31, 2017.