The state Department of Ecology (DOE) plans to announce a new “carbon cap” rule proposal next month—the same rule Jay Inslee ordered them to write in September, and the same rule he thinks he can impose on the state using his executive authority. Inslee is choosing that dubious route because the Legislature, led by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, refused to even bring his job-killing idea up for a vote earlier this year.
The rules are scheduled by Ecology for adoption next summer in order to take effect in 2017. The DOE says it “would cover 37 facilities run by 31 companies, including petroleum refineries and importers, natural gas distributors, power plants, industrial plants and landfills.
Last week, state lawmakers had their first opportunity to question the DOE over the proposal, which would be based on a credit system. Responding to a question about the credits from GOP state Senator Doug Ericksen, an Ecology official gave the example Alcoa and said the company could “generate and sell credits as part of a recently announced plan to shut down aluminum smelters in Wenatchee and Ericksen’s hometown of Ferndale.” Ericksen wasn’t pleased with the response for more than one reason. Via the Olympian,
“Ericksen said that would give companies incentive to move production to other places where energy isn’t as green as in Washington, with its cheap and abundant hydropower, driving up global emissions. The Republican criticized Inslee, a Democrat, for bypassing the legislative branch through administrative action, much as Obama did at the federal level.
“‘You’re seeing executives who can’t get their way through the legislative process trying to do it all by rule,’” Ericksen said after the hearing in the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee that he leads.”
Democrats responded to Ericksen’s rational argument the only way they could, irrationally. Liberal state Sen. Kevin Ranker decided it was relevant to defend Inslee’s overreach of power by comparing the situation to the Legislature moving to implement the Affordable Care Act, while former Attorney General Rob McKenna joined in a lawsuit to block the federal law.
The comparison, of course, doesn’t make any sense. McKenna was well within his authority as the state’s Attorney General to challenge the constitutionality of a federal law, regardless of whether the legislature was seeking to impose a potentially unconstitutional law. Inslee, on the other hand, is attempting to completely bypass the state legislature in order to implement new bureaucratic regulations that he may not have the ability to impose.