RELATED ECOLOGY PROGRAMS
State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA)
Enacted by the Washington Legislature in 1971, the State Environmental Policy Act – commonly called SEPA – helps state and local agencies in Washington identify possible environmental impacts that could result from governmental decisions such as:
SEPA applies to all decisions made by state and local agencies including:
SEPA informs decisions
Everyday, state and local agencies in Washington use SEPA to evaluate proposed decisions. Information learned through the review process can be used to:
Some minor projects can be exempt
SEPA also gives local governments the option to allow some minor construction projects to be exempt from review, depending on their size and scale.
Lead agencies for specific proposals
Under SEPA, one government agency is usually identified as the lead agency for every proposal determined not to be exempt from review. The lead agency identifies and evaluates potential adverse environmental impacts of a proposal. In practice:
This evaluation is documented and sent to the public and other agencies for their review and comment.
Environmental checklist key SEPA tool
Under SEPA, project proponents are usually asked to complete an environmental checklist. The checklist asks questions about the proposal and its potential impacts on the environment including:
After the checklist has been completed, the lead agency will review it and other information about the proposal. If more information is needed, the lead agency can ask the applicant to conduct further studies such as:
When a proponent has gathered and submitted enough information about their proposal, the lead agency can:
An EIS needs to include:
Using SEPA in decision making
The DNS prepared by the lead agency or an EIS completed by a
third party provides critical information to all agencies involved
in the environmental review and approval process.
Other resources for reviewers
For questions or comments concerning SEPA, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (360) 407-6922.
Please join our SEPA Listserv to stay up-to-date on SEPA news.
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