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Biden administration moves to protect Alaska wilderness; opening statements and first witness in NY trial; SCOTUS hears Starbucks case, with implications for unions on the line; rural North Carolina town gets pathway to home ownership.

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The Supreme Court weighs cities ability to manage a growing homelessness crisis, anti-Israeli protests spread to college campuses nationwide, and more states consider legislation to ban firearms at voting sites and ballot drop boxes.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

Repeal of WA carbon cap program would have 'devastating effects'

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Wednesday, January 17, 2024   

Opponents of a new law to cap carbon in Washington state are waiting to see if their initiative to repeal it will appear before voters in November. Supporters argued eliminating it could have a range of impacts on the state.

The Climate Commitment Act was passed in 2021 and created a cap-and-invest program to reduce carbon from the state's largest emitters over time. In its first year of auctions in 2023, the program raised about $2 billion.

David Mendoza, director of policy and government relations for The Nature Conservancy in Washington, said repealing the program would hit the state's transportation budget especially hard.

"It inevitably would start affecting our ability to invest in roads and bridges that the rest of the transportation budget does, which will shrink the whole thing and there will be less money for everything moving forward," Mendoza pointed out. "It could have some really devastating effects on what we're able to do for our state if the repeal occurs."

Investments from the program have been used to create fare-free bus transit for Washingtonians age 18 and under across the state, for example. Funds have also been used for electric school buses and EV chargers. However, opponents of the Climate Commitment Act contended it is raising the cost of everything in Washington, especially gas.

Mendoza stressed the price of gas is even more complicated. He urged lawmakers to make the source of gas prices and fluctuations clear.

"That's what we're trying to do, is create some transparency so the public is better aware of the whole range of things that go into setting the price of gas and can't demonize this legislation," Mendoza explained. "Which has really positive effects in a whole range of other ways."

Mendoza noted the state has a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly half by 2030.

"The Climate Commitment Act itself accounts for 26 million metric tons of reduction," Mendoza outlined. "If the Climate Commitment Act goes away, there's very little ways we can actually meet that goal."

Mendoza added the program also invests in climate resilience to defend against the effects of climate change communities are already experiencing in the state.


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