About Us photo

About Us

Overview of State Environmental Laws

For information about rule-making at Ecology, visit our Laws & Rules site.

For a more complete list of state laws and rules related to environmental protection, please see:

The citizens of Washington, the Legislature and Washington’s governors have made it a priority of state government to protect the environment and human health — and to involve the public in agency regulatory and environmental cleanup decisions.

Several federal laws create national minimum requirements for clean air, water and soil. Ecology has received delegated authority from the federal government to carry out and enforce several federal environmental statutes within our state’s boundaries.

In addition, Washington voters and elected leaders have adopted other, more protective state laws that reflect the environmental values of Washingtonians. (For more information, see Focus on state-specific standards.)

Washington voters and elected officials have adopted specific protective state statutes that reflect the environmental values of Washingtonians – and the unique natural diversity of our state.

Here are examples of the key state laws directing Ecology’s environmental, policy making and public involvement and education work:

Chapter 43.21C RCW — State Environmental Policy Act
Ensures that building projects consider and plan for environmental impacts

Chapter 43.200 RCW — Radioactive Waste Act
Establishes state oversight for safe management and disposal of radioactive wastes at the Hanford nuclear reservation

Chapter 70.93 RCW — Model Litter Control Act
Creating a permanent and continuous program to control and remove litter from Washington

Chapter 70.94 RCW — Washington Clean Air Act
Establishing local and state programs to reduce air pollution, with polluters paying their share of clean-air programs.)

Chapter 70.95 RCW — Solid Waste Management – Reduction and Recycling
Assigning primary responsibility for solid waste handling to local government, giving the state the function of assuring effective programs throughout the state

Chapter 70.102 RCW — Hazardous Substance Information
Providing information and education to the public on sources of hazardous substances in Washington

Chapter 70.105 RCW — Hazardous Waste Management
Regulating management of hazardous wastes and releases of hazardous substances; promoting waste reduction.

Chapter 70.105D RCW — Model Toxics Control Act
Washington’s foundational law, creating a tax on petroleum and other toxic substances to pay for local and state cleanups of toxic sites and for preventing pollution.

Chapter 88.46 RCW — Vessel Oil Spill Prevention and Response
Establishing a state tanker vessel inspection program and requiring vessel operators to prevent, prepare for and respond to spills related to their operations

Chapter 90.48 RCW — Water Pollution Control Act
Requiring industries and others to use all known available and reasonable methods to ensure the purity of all waters of the state

Chapter 90.54 RCW — Water Resources Management
Requiring that available water supplies be managed to best meet both in-stream and out-of-stream needs

Chapter 90.56 RCW — Oil and Hazardous Substance Spill Prevention
Creates broad powers of regulation for the Department of Ecology relating to preventing and responding to oil spills.

Chapter 90.58 RCW — Shoreline Management Act
Requiring local government regulations to protect shorelines of statewide significance for benefit and use by all citizens of the state

Chapter 90.82 RCW — Watershed Planning Act
Providing local communities and citizens the maximum possible input in setting goals and objectives for water resource management and development

Chapter 90.84 RCW — Wetlands Mitigation Banking
Authorizing state agencies and local governments to approve private transactions between landowners through which a developer can purchase credits in a pre-established manmade wetland to offset unavoidable damage to a natural wetland when land is developed.

Chapter 90.90 RCW — Columbia River Basin Water Supply
Declaring that a Columbia River basin water supply development program is needed, and directing Ecology to aggressively pursue the development of water supplies to benefit both in-stream and out-of-stream uses.

Chapter 34.05 RCW — Administrative Procedure Act
The Legislature enacted the Administrative Procedure Act, spelling out public involvement requirements for state agencies, with the intent to achieve greater consistency among agencies’ administrative decision-making procedures and to provide greater public and legislative access to agencies’ decision making.

Chapter 43.21A RCW — Department of Ecology
Each state agency must follow fair methods and procedures. We adopt and publish rules to define how we exercise our authority, perform our duties, or how we determine individual rights and roles with respect to our shared environment. The Washington Administrative Code (WAC) tells people what to expect from us.