State Environmental Policy Act Rulemaking 2013-14

Washington's State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) requires that all state and local agencies consider the likely consequences before making decisions that affect the natural and built environment. The law provides broad authority for agency decision makers to avoid, mitigate or compensate for adverse impacts by modifying proposals or denying permits.

Ecology has completed Round 2 of SEPA rule-making. The rule-making order was filed on April 9, 2014, and the rule will take effect on May 10, 2014. For more information see:

Why is this important?

SEPA was enacted in 1971, when the nation’s awareness of environmental problems was emerging. Many laws and procedures for environmental protection, land use planning and infrastructure provision have been implemented since SEPA was first adopted. The 2012 legislature directed Ecology to modernize the rules that guide state and local agencies in conducting SEPA reviews, in light of the increased environmental protections in place under RCW 36.70A, RCW 90.58 and other laws.

Background

Ecology is embarking on the final round of updates to the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) rules (Chapter 197-11 WAC), as directed by the 2012 legislature. The legislature directed Ecology to modernize the rules that guide state and local agencies in conducting SEPA reviews, in light of the increased environmental protections in place under RCW 36.70A, RCW 90.58 and other laws. This legislative direction is provided in Senate Bill 6406 (now codified as Chapter 1, Laws of 2012 1st Special Session) , specifically in Section 301. The bill also revised certain aspects of SEPA procedures that took effect July 10, 2012.

The legislation sets up two rounds of rule updates: A narrowly-focused initial round which was completed by December 31, 2012 and a broader round of SEPA rule updates during 2013. For more information see SEPA rulemaking in 2012.

Senate Bill 6406 also directed Ecology to update these two specific SEPA rule topics by December 31, 2012. The bill directs Ecology to conduct a second broader round of SEPA rule revisions during 2013.

Senate Bill 6406 also directs Ecology to convene a SEPA Advisory Committee to assist Ecology in updating the SEPA exemption thresholds and the environmental checklist.

Contact information

 

For questions or comments concerning SEPA, please e-mail the SEPA Unit or call (360) 407-6922.