On Wednesday, the US state of Washington unveiled a plan to lead the fight against industrial emissions of greenhouse gases. If this plan is accepted, Washington will join twelve other states who have already taken similar measures.
The plan requires large-scale polluters to reduce their emissions gradually over a given period of time. These measures would apply to a wide range of industries, from energy production to the paper industry and, most importantly, the oil & gas sectors. Ultimately, the measure envisages to bring about an annual emission reduction of 1.7%.
Not every industry is concerned by the bill at first. For the first few years, only the biggest polluters will be forced to reduce their emissions but gradually, as the tolerance threshold is lowered, other facilities will gradually become involved.
According to economic analyses, the measure is expected to cost between 1.5 and 3 billion dollars over a 20-year period for businesses in the state.
Although many people have welcomed the initiative, there have also been many critics of the new state policy. Naturally some of those critics have been calling for even more stringent reductions but the principal criticism of the plan is that US companies can buy “emission reduction credits” from others in the program, rather than complying themselves.
Given the federal structure of the United States, some also fear that industry will move to other states, which may have more flexible policies. It is almost certainly to avoid such problems that Jay Inslee, the governor of the state of Washington, went to San Francisco to sign a climate agreement with 6 different cities located on the West Coast of the US.