Changes to State Environmental Policy Act Rules Benefit Local Governments
Thursday, April 10, 2014
Posted by: Lindsay Kittleson
Changes to State Environmental Policy Act
rules benefit local governments --
Communities gain greater flexibility and
increased public review period
OLYMPIA - The Washington Department of Ecology has adopted changes to the State Environmental Policy Act rules. The changes will make SEPA rules work better for local governments and their communities while considering environmental protection needs.
The changes come after months of working in partnership with the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) advisory committee. The advisory committee was formed as a result of state legislation passed in 2012. Committee members represented cities, counties, the business community, environmental groups, agriculture, state agencies, cultural resources and tribes.
"Advisory committee members took a thoughtful, collaborative approach and provided us with excellent input," said Brenden McFarland, environmental review section manager for Ecology. "Their input helped us draft the changes which will make the SEPA rule work better."
SEPA rule changes are available on Ecology's website
- Provide greater flexibility for cities and counties to determine the size of development projects that need review under SEPA.
- Clarify the analysis required before cities and counties can increase their exemption levels.
- Increase the public review period prior to city and county adoption of increased exemption levels of minor new construction.
- Eliminate SEPA requirements for some maintenance activities.
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.