News today that the Washington state supreme court has blocked a scheme by Governor (and erstwhile candidate for climate President) Inslee from taking over the energy industry. Washington state is a place where leftist progressives live in large numbers in and around Seattle and impose their virtue signalling ideas on the rest of the population who are more skeptical.
This story is also of interest since the maneuver follows the practice of weaponizing environmental law to overthrow society’s dependence on energy from fossil fuels. For example, NGO lawyers have attacked permits for infrastructure like pipelines by demanding that the assessment also include emissions from end users burning the gas or oil after it has left the pipeline. In the Washington state case, Inslee tried to put the Department of Ecology in charge of taxing energy used by the transportation industry under the auspices of a Clean Air Act. This was in fact an end run around the defeat of a state carbon tax in the last election.
The story from the Seattle Times is State Supreme Court limits Gov. Inslee’s rule cutting greenhouse-gas emissions Excerpts in italics with my bolds.
The Washington State Supreme Court has invalidated key portions of a rule imposed by the administration of Gov. Jay Inslee capping greenhouse-gas emissions by fuel distributors, natural-gas companies and other industries.
In a 5-4 ruling Thursday, the court upheld a 2017 lower-court decision that the state Department of Ecology had exceeded its legal authority in trying to apply clean-air standards to “indirect emitters” that don’t directly burn fossil fuels.
“The issue is not whether man-made climate change is real — it is,” wrote Chief Justice Debra Stephens in the majority opinion. However, Stephens wrote, the department’s efforts to enforce the state Clean Air Act went beyond what had been authorized by the law.
[That is a social opinion not a legal one since IPCC suppositions have not yet been litigated.]
“We are confident that if the State of Washington wishes to expand the definition of emission standards to encompass ‘indirect emitters,’ the Legislature will say so. In the meantime. Ecology may not claim more authority than the Legislature has granted in the Act,” Stephens wrote.
The state had projected the rule would reduce emissions by 20 million metric tons by 2035 — about two-thirds of the target established by the Legislature in 2008. But three-quarters of that reduction would have come from applying the regulation to indirect emitters, according to the court ruling.
[The hypocrisy is striking; people who burn gasoline in their cars and trucks are directly responsible for those emissions, not their suppliers. Energy products are provided in a free society to those who want and can afford to pay for them. Those who want to live without such energy are also free to make that choice. But beware, in modern nations like the G20 nearly 90% of energy comes from burning fossil fuels. CO2 zealots want to shut off the supply for everyone else instead of themselves. Socialism is another name for shared misery]
During a news conference, Inslee said he disagreed with the court majority’s central conclusion but hasn’t yet decided whether to ask lawmakers to amend the Clean Air Act to include indirect emitters.
State Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, praised the court ruling in a statement calling the clean-air rule “a classic example of government arrogance and overreach.”
A longtime opponent of Inslee’s climate agenda, Ericksen, the ranking Republican member of the state Senate’s environment committee, said the rule would have imposed “onerous new regulations on oil refiners and distributors of natural gas” and passed potentially billions of dollars in costs on to consumers.
Ericksen added he hoped the decision would “quell the enthusiasm of other agencies” to push legal boundaries, citing the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency’s decision to develop a low-carbon fuel regulation.
Frustrated by legislative inaction, Inslee had directed Ecology in 2015 to use executive authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon emissions.
After a lengthy rule-making process, the state issued regulations in 2016 which would have targeted dozens of top emitters, from Skagit County oil refineries to Boeing’s Everett plant and Eastern Washington food processors. The rule required such facilities to cut their carbon footprint by an average of 1.7% a year — either by cleaning up their own facilities or paying for carbon-reduction projects off-site.
But the rule was quickly challenged in a lawsuit by business groups led by the Association of Washington Business. The association’s president, Kris Johnson, said in a statement he welcomed the court’s ruling and intends to work with lawmakers “to find a bipartisan solution” to reduce the state’s carbon emissions.
A trade association for paper mills said its members remain concerned about the effects of even a more limited version of the clean-air rule.