Saturday, January 28, 2023

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A critical number of rural IA nursing homes close; TX lawmakers consider measures to restrict, and expand voting in 2023 Session; and CT groups, and unions call for public-health reforms.

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Attorney General announces enforcement actions on ransomware, Democrats discuss border policies, and the FDA is relaxing rules for gay and bisexual men to donate blood.

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WA Climate Law Aims to Improve Frontline Communities' Air

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Wednesday, October 12, 2022   

Washington state is crafting its ambitious cap-and-invest law to reduce the state's emissions by 95% by 2050 and is seeking comments from the public.

The Climate Commitment Act was passed in Olympia in 2021 and compliance begins in 2023. The measure aims to cut emissions by requiring businesses emitting at least 25,000 tons of carbon pollution to bid for allowances.

David Mendoza, director of advocacy and engagement for The Nature Conservancy in Washington, said the program also includes air-quality commitments for communities hit hardest by air pollution.

"Emissions like particulate matter lead to negative health outcomes, higher rates of asthma, higher rates of heart disease, lower life expectancy," Mendoza outlined. "And so, there's a very rigorous program that's being developed right now by the Department of Ecology to set air-quality targets, so that we're seeing a set and specified reduction in these harmful criteria pollutants."

The Department of Ecology is seeking public comment through Nov. 4 as it develops rules for the program. The agency wants guidance on how to best identify communities overburdened by air pollution and where to invest in air monitors. It has scheduled some online public comment sessions, including today at 6 p.m.

Mendoza pointed out Washington has learned from California's cap-and-trade program, which has been criticized for not reducing pollution in overburdened communities.

"The key component that differentiates our policy from California's -- and, I think, other cap-and-trade programs that have been passed -- is the air quality program that's embedded, and a part of this work," Mendoza contended.

Mendoza added the 2021 HEAL Act established the Environmental Justice Council, which will play an important role in shaping the law.

"What we're going for is essentially a culture shift in how state government interacts with underrepresented communities, overburdened communities," Mendoza explained. "Instead of being kind of an external stakeholder, how are we bringing them in to be a partner in this process, so their concerns are baked into all these policies from the beginning?"

Disclosure: The Nature Conservancy of Washington contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, and Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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