Bloomberg: West Coast States, British Columbia support carbon collaboration


Bloomberg BNA — An agreement signed in October 2013 by the governors of California, Oregon and Washington and the leader of British Columbia to collaborate on climate policies could produce a consistent fueling infrastructure for electric vehicles on the West Coast, California Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Matt Rodriquez said March 27.


Five months after the signing, the Pacific Coast Collaborative has yet to yield any specific project or program, but each of the jurisdictions believe the partnership offers opportunities to increase the impacts of their individual initiatives, Rodriquez and representatives of Oregon and Washington said at the opening plenary session of the Navigating the American Carbon World conference in the San Francisco.


“There is power in unity,’’ Oregon’s representative, Cylvia Hayes, founder and chief executive officer of the Oregon-based clean economy consulting company 3EStrategy and the wife of Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber (D), told the conference.


Another initiative could involve harmonizing the energy efficiency standards for appliances among the jurisdictions and addressing ocean acidification, Hayes said in the session, “Leading a Charge on the West Coast: The Pacific Coast Collaborative.’’


Under the agreement, the jurisdictions agreed to align their climate policies and put a price on carbon.


Previously, British Columbia adopted a carbon tax on fossil fuels and California implemented a greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade program.


Washington, Oregon Uncertain


So far, it is unclear what specific program Washington or Oregon would pursue to put a price on carbon, either a carbon tax, a trading program or another option. Nothing in the Pacific Coast Collaborative mandates that they set a price on carbon.


Jay Manning, the former director of Washington’s Department of Ecology and now a partner at the Cascadia Law Group in Seattle, said Gov. Jay Inslee (D) is “dead serious’’ about putting in carbon limits and is considering enacting a low-carbon fuel standard through executive order.


Oil industry groups are lining up to fight the fuel standard, Manning said. “It’s going to be a bruising battle; there’s no doubt about that,’’ he said.

California’s experience with cap-and-trade could sway some in the Washington Legislature toward a market-based program, but political divisions could hamper the governor’s climate initiatives, he said.


“It won’t surprise me if we have to go to the people,’’ Manning said.


Cal-EPA’s Rodriquez said the state is hopeful that other jurisdictions will join the California cap-and-trade program, but acknowledged “there is no one-size-fits-all’’ program.


Meanwhile, the state is committed to collaborating and partnering with other government entities in the U.S. and abroad to help advance climate policies globally, he said.