To date, Washington has been the weakest link in a potentially giant West Coast cap and trade market for greenhouse gases. This is odd. And annoying. But it could be about to change.

So far, the clear frontrunner has been California, under the leadership of a Republican. Recently there’s been talk in British Columbia, under its center-right premier, of drafting a California-style system. And earlier this week, we heard word that Oregon’s governor was considering a more modest cap-and-trade system. Under the rosiest scenario, all this could point toward a big (as in 48 million people) and highly credible West Coast cap and trade carbon market—one that could conceivably set a new standard for the world.  

The do-nothing oddity, as I mentioned earlier, is Washington, which has a Democratic governor and Democratic super-majorities in both legislative houses. I’ve been gnashing my teeth about this for some time, but I may soon be able to give my chompers a rest: Josh Feit at The Stranger is reporting that there’s now a cap and trade bill (pdf) in the house.

No word yet on the bill’s viability. Apparently, there’s no companion bill in the senate and many key Democratic legislators have yet to sign on in support. I also haven’t heard any buzz. Not yet anyway.

Now is the time for folks in Washington to start turning up the heat on their representatives, including the governor. After all, the state just got an assessment of the huge impacts that global warming is likely to visit on the local economy. And Washington now has about the best political climate imaginable.

It’s time to act.