Sen. Hawkins Says Carbon Auction Funds Could Support Transportation Projects
Twelfth District Sen. Brad Hawkins (R-East Wenatchee) and other state lawmakers are looking for ways to pad the 16-year, Move Ahead Washington (MAW) transportation package that was passed by the legislature just last year.
Due to inflation and the rising cost of labor and materials, the $3 billion package is already projected to fall well short of meeting its original goals and many lawmakers agree more money will be necessary to keep it entirely viable.
One potential source of revenue to further fund MAW is from the state's new Climate Commitment Act (CCA), which is a cap-and-invest program that sets a limit on overall carbon emissions in the state and requires businesses to obtain allowances equal to their covered greenhouse gas emissions. The allowances are obtained through quarterly auctions hosted by Department of Ecology, or can be bought and sold on the secondary market.
Hawkins says while there is plenty of money to access after the program's first year, it comes with a catch.
"Those revenues have come in significantly higher than projected based on the auction prices. But those dollars are restricted to emissions reduction activities, so that creates kind of an interesting situation."
Hawkins says it would be possible to apply money from the CCA to transportation projects in the state, but the scope of what could be funded is limited.
"One option could be if we used the Climate Commitment Act's excess revenues to backfill transportation dollars, that money could go to pedestrian and transit projects which meet the standards for reducing emissions."
It's yet to be determined if some of the projects slated for funding by MAW would qualify for revenues from the CCA, including the City of Wenatchee's Confluence Parkway Project.
In 2023, cap-and-invest auctions from the CCA brought in $1.8 billion dollars.
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