Last Friday, a Thurston County Superior Court judge ruled
that the Clean Air Rule exceeded Washington state’s authority to regulate carbon emissions. While there will be further arguments in front of this judge, we think he got it wrong. Climate Solutions, Natural Resources Defense Council and Washington Environmental Council will join the state in its appeal of this ruling and ultimately the decision will be decided in a higher court.
Nothing about this ruling changes a simple fact—the Clean Air Rule was always a first step, not a last step. The imperative to transition rapidly to clean energy increases every single day. The Clean Air Rule will contribute to pollution reduction, but it wasn’t sufficient to prevent our electric utilities from doubling down on new fossil fuel power plants and it won’t lead to a rapid enough reduction in reliance on gasoline and diesel.
The rule is firmly within the state’s authority to act, but no matter what happens in this case we know it’s the legislature that needs to get to work. We need to place our electricity sector on a path to 100% clean power, we need to electrify our transportation system, and we need to boost energy efficiency.
And if the legislature fails again, then the people of Washington will take advantage of the powers reserved to us in our state constitution, and we will vote for climate action at the ballot.