Tuesday, December 16, 2008

State agency, industry respond to Hudgins call for emissions reductions

Are big businesses being rewarded for polluting more?

That’s the question State Representative Zack Hudgins (D - Tukwila) posed to the Department of Ecology (DOE) when he called for the creation of the Toxics Reduction Advisory Committee (TRAC) last legislative session. Hudgins tasked the committee with addressing the way in which DOE collects fees from businesses that release toxic industrial pollution into our air, land, and water.

State officials and business leaders recently reported back to the members of the state House Committee on Environmental Health, of which Hudgins serves as the Majority Leader, on their efforts to revamp the outdated system perceived by some to be allowing bigger polluters to get away with larger quantities of toxic emissions.

Here’s how the system works: Currently the state DOE can collect fees from companies for toxic emissions up to a certain limit. That limit is what has many smaller companies, as well as environmental advocates, calling for change. The more a company pollutes, they argue, the less impact the fee has.

Hudgins challenged DOE’s experts and lobbied his legislative colleagues in the House and Senate to come up with a new way of funding the program, as well as the incentives for pollution-reduction strategies adopted by businesses. His efforts led to the creation in the 2008 state budget of TRAC, the stakeholder advisory group that weighed in on the fee cap, as well as efforts to reduce all toxic emissions in the state by 50 percent.

Read the full story here.

Click here to learn more about the Toxics Reduction Advisory Committee and their findings and recommendations report.