Saturday, April 4, 2020
April 4, 2020

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County braces for carbon rules

Utility, two Camas companies would initially be affected

By , Columbian Business Reporter

Proposed state regulations targeting big carbon emitters would initially affect two Clark County companies and one utility that would fall within the new regulatory framework.

The Department of Ecology’s proposed Clean Air Rule would initially apply to about two dozen manufacturing plants, refineries, power plants, natural gas distributors and others that release at least 100,000 metric tons of carbon a year. In Clark County the rule would initially apply to two Camas companies: WaferTech, a silicon chip foundry, and Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products LLC, a pulp and paper mill. Both would join the program in 2020, or when their emissions exceed Ecology’s threshold, whichever comes later. The rule would also apply to Clark Public Utilities, which operates the natural gas-powered River Road Generating Plant.

The rule, which likely will take effect this summer, would compel 5 percent carbon emission reductions every three years under the Clean Air Act. The state Legislature will also consider other carbon emission regulations during its session that starts Monday.

A spokesman for WaferTech said the company, a subsidiary of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., is ready to meet the challenge.

“There will be a minimal effect on us,” said Doug Moody, the company’s local manager of environmental health and safety. “We already have emission reduction plans. We are in the process of reducing electric consumption — as we have been doing for many years.”

Georgia Pacific, an Atlanta-based subsidiary of Koch Industries, said the mill has reservations about the proposed regulations, a spokesperson said. “We are concerned about the costs involved with meeting this regulation and how it will affect our ability to be competitive in the long term,” said Kristi Ward, a spokesperson for the company.

Ward said it was too early to comment in depth about how the proposal would affect the mill.

“We’ve only just received information about the proposed regulation,” she said, adding that the Camas will has reduced energy use by 15 percent since 2009.

Clark Public Utilities’ natural gas-powered plant — a big carbon emitter — provides around 40 percent of the utility’s energy.

“There will be an impact with any legislation or rules related to carbon because of the River Road Generating Plant,” said Clark Public Utilities spokeswoman Erica Erland. “What that is remains to be determined.”