Statement from Sen. Doug Ericksen on state Supreme Court cap-and-trade decision

Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, ranking Republican on the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology Committee, offered the following statement in response to the state Supreme Court’s ruling Thursday striking down the most onerous provisions of the Inslee Administration’s “Clean Air Rule.” The court ruled Thursday that state agencies cannot exceed the authority granted by state law in an attempt to force a cap-and-trade program on the state of Washington.

“This was a victory for the rule of law and for the people of the state of Washington. The Inslee Administration overstepped its authority when it decided to force a ‘cap-and-trade’ program on the state of Washington without a vote of the Legislature. This would have imposed onerous new regulations on oil refiners and distributors of natural gas, yet the court saw, as we did, that the state Clean Air Act doesn’t give Ecology the authority to impose regulations on the makers and distributors of products, and it can only regulate emitters.

“But there is a bigger issue involved. The people need to be included in decisions like these. The costs would have been passed along to consumers, and they would have been enormous, anywhere from $400 million to $6.8 billion over 20 years, according to the Department of Ecology’s own estimates. Benefits were slim to none, and it would have wrenched our economy and thrown people out of work. The Inslee Administration decided it knew better than everyone else.

“Let us hope this decision will quell the enthusiasm of other agencies to exceed the authority granted them by state law – for example, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency’s decision to impose low-carbon fuel standards on the Puget Sound area, without a law giving them the authority to do it.

“This case was a classic example of government arrogance and overreach. The court was right to rein in the Inslee Administration and the Department of Ecology. The people and their representatives in the Legislature cannot be cut out of the decisions that will affect their lives. Government should always listen to the people.”