Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah) released a legislative proposal to make changes to Washington’s Climate Commitment Act (CCA), which would lower gas prices, improve fuel price transparency, and help ensure Washington’s climate action is balanced with affordability.
“The Climate Commitment Act was a good idea, and I voted for it. The climate crisis is real, and the investments made possible by the CCA in clean energy, green jobs, and protecting folks from pollution are important. But any major program is going to need fixes and updates as time goes on, and I think it’s clear the CCA could use some work to lower the impact it’s having on gas prices and help the families and small businesses who are feeling the hit,” Mullet said. “Washington state isn’t going to stop climate change all on our own — we need other states and countries to act too. I really worry we won’t see other governments following Washington’s leadership on climate if we can’t show that it’s possible to fight carbon pollution while still balancing it with affordability.”
A summary of the bill prepared by nonpartisan staff of the Senate Transportation Committee can be seen here.
The bill contains four major policies:
- Modifies the schedule of compliance with emission reduction goals between now and 2050 and expands use of the Allowance Price Containment Reserve to increase the current supply of allowances, lowering the price at auction. The goal would align the auction price of the allowances ($63.03 at the most recent auction) toward the price in California’s auctions (recently in the range of $30 to $35), which is expected to lower the impact of the CCA on gas prices. It’s expected that this would save consumers about 15 to 30 cents per gallon of gas.
- Improves transparency on gas pricing by requiring the Joint Transportation Committee to convene a work group on the causes of fuel prices, with a report of recommendations for action due to the Legislature in December 2024. This was proposed as a proviso in the Senate’s transportation budget proposal in the 2023 session but not included in the final budget that passed the Legislature.
- Implements the CCA’s agricultural emissions exemptions, establishing a remittance program for farmers to provide them cash or CCA credits to cover the cost of their compliance with the CCA. Agricultural uses were supposed to be exempted from the CCA all along, but it hasn’t been implemented as was promised to farmers.
- Provides immediate relief in affordability by using CCA revenues above what was estimated in by the state Department of Ecology in October 2022 (about $32 per ton of carbon) to lower car tabs statewide. This would be in place for fiscal years 2025 and 2026, providing immediate affordability relief if the auction prices take time to decrease.
“The bill draft I’m presenting here has real and meaningful policy ideas on an important issue, and I hope people engage with it seriously,” Mullet said. “A lot of work has already gone into getting this proposal where it is today. Regardless of whether action happens in a special session or 2024, I want these policies to be out in the open for the public, press, and stakeholders to see and offer feedback on. Folks should know there are good things we can do to help lower gas prices without compromising our important work to fight the climate crisis.”
The draft legislation will have a bill number once formally introduced in a legislative session.