State Environmental Policy Act changes proposed

After months of working in partnership with the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) advisory committee, the Department of Ecology (Ecology) has submitted proposed changes to the statewide rule. The changes submitted to the Office the Code Reviser are intended to make SEPA work better for local governments and their communities while considering environmental protection needs.

The public is invited to comment on the proposal through Feb. 5, 2014.

The SEPA advisory committee was formed as a result of state legislation passed in 2012. Advisory committee members represented cities, counties, the business community, environmental groups, agriculture, state agencies, cultural resources and tribes.

“The advisory committee took a thoughtful, collaborative approach and provided us with excellent input,” said Brenden McFarland, environmental review section manager for Ecology. “That input helped us draft the proposed changes that will make the SEPA rule work better.”

The proposed changes to the SEPA Rules will:

• Provide greater flexibility for cities and counties to determine their area’s exemption levels

• Clarify the analysis required before cities and counties increase their exemption levels

• Increase the public review period prior to city and county adoption of increased exemption levels

• Expand and clarify exemptions for maintenance activities

• Update and clarify other provisions of the SEPA Rules

People can submit comments through Feb. 5, 2014 in the following ways:

• Email:

• Fax: 360-407-6904

• Mail: Fran Sant, Department of Ecology, 300 Desmond Dr., Lacey WA 98503.

Ecology will host a presentation and a question and answer session followed by the formal hearing. Hearing details are:

Date: Jan. 29, 2014

Location: Department of Ecology, 300 Desmond Drive, Lacey, WA


• Hearing No. 1 begins at 1:30 p.m.

• Hearing No. 2 begins at 6:30 p.m.

By phone: To participate and/or provide comments by phone call 1-800-704-9804, Pin number 8386377#

Hearing contact: Fran Sant, 360-407-6004

SEPA was enacted by the Washington Legislature in 1971 to ensure that environmental values were considered during decision-making by state and local agencies. SEPA requires identification and evaluation of probable impacts to the environment before making decisions on projects, plans, programs, and policies.

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