Legislation to support efforts linking Washington’s cap-and-invest carbon market to those of California and Quebec passed the Washington State Senate Monday.

Senate Bill 6058, sponsored by Sen. Joe Nguyễn (D-White Center), makes numerous technical changes to carbon markets to help align Washington’s market with those of California and Quebec, and is an important step forward for the cap-and-invest program created by 2021’s Climate Commitment Act.

Linking markets with California and Quebec is expected to have major benefits for Washington’s carbon market. With a larger and more stable market, it’s expected that allowance prices would be significantly lower than at the 2023 auctions, with lower impacts to the gas and energy prices for consumers. It also would provide predictability and stability for businesses emitting carbon pollution participating in the auctions to incentivize long-term strategies to reduce emissions. These benefits and others are outlined in the Department of Ecology’s October 2023 report analyzing the impact of linkage, which contributed to the state’s decision to move forward with the plan and this legislation.

“Joining forces with other states and governments in the fight against climate change is an important step forward in our work to reduce carbon pollution and support a green, sustainable economy,” Nguyễn said. “The Climate Commitment Act is playing a critical role for Washington’s clean energy future — investing in energy efficiency, protecting our environment, reducing pollution, and more — and linkage makes it work even better.”

SB 6058 was supported in committee by a broad spectrum of stakeholders, including environmental advocates, tribes, businesses, energy utilities, labor unions, and more.

The bill is not expected to be an alternative to Initiative 2117 on the November ballot, which seeks to repeal the Climate Commitment Act and eliminate Washington’s carbon market. The legislation states that if SB 6058 is found to be an alternative and placed on the ballot by a court’s final judgment, it becomes null and void.