Bid to repeal Washington cap-and-trade hits a nerve in California

By Anne C. Mulkern | 04/05/2024 06:15 AM EDT

“That stuff is scary,” a California state senator said of the Evergreen State’s market collapse ahead of a Republican-led ballot initiative.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) attends an Oct. 23, 2023, event at the University of Hong Kong in Hong Kong. Anthony Kwan/AP

Backlash against Washington state’s carbon market is vexing California officials as they seek to overhaul their own cap-and-trade system.

California now is in the process of revamping its carbon market, which launched more than 11 years ago with the goal of reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of the state’s biggest businesses. State regulators say the system needs more punch to help California meet its ambitious climate goals.

Enter Washington state.


Last year, the state kicked off its own cap-and-trade system with a bang. Auctions sold out, and prices in August hit a level nearly double those in California at the time: $63 versus $34 for an allowance to emit 1 metric ton of carbon pollution.