Last week in the House Rules Committee, House Democrats unveiled a new amendment to the House-version of the controversial Cap and Trade bill (HB 4001) that would allow the Legislature to delay voting on certain components of the program until 2019. The amendment would allow legislators to vote on the greenhouse gas emissions (“GHG’s”) “cap” this session but would not require a vote on the “trade” portion until next year, and would also delegate the “trade” portion to the Environmental Quality Commission should the Legislature still not be able to pass it in 2019. As a refresher, the bill would cap the state’s GHG’s in 2021 and create a trading system for permits to emit above the cap. This would impact an estimated 100 companies in many of the state’s largest industries. Essentially, businesses that emit over 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent would be effected, with the cap coming down over time and fewer pollution permits available. The end goal would be to reduced emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
Even with the changes proposed last week, there has been no indication yet that the Legislature (particularly the Senate) is willing to pass the program during the short February session. With the session ending no later than March 11th, time is running out for Cap and Trade for 2018 but if it does not pass this session, you can be sure it will continue to be a hot topic during the interim and a major priority for Democrats in 2019.