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Ecology's 2017 Legislative Requests

The 2017 Washington legislative session begins January 9 and ends April 23. Every year, Ecology identifies legislative changes that would help us better fulfill our mission of protecting and restoring Washington's environment. We work with legislators and the governor to create and support bills during the legislative session to bring about those changes. This is called our agency request legislation.


Chehalis Basin Board

What the bill does: Chapter 194, Laws of 2016 (HB 2856) would be amended to clarify three items:

  1. The Governor will invite the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation and the Quinault Indian Nation to each designate a member of the Chehalis Board.

  2. Initial staggered terms are specified for the Governor and Flood Authority positions.

  3. Legislative guidance on Board expertise and knowledge would apply to all appointing authorities.

Why it's important: Clarification is needed regarding details of the Board appointment process.

  • Under the current law, tribal appointments, are subject to confirmation by the Washington State Senate. It is not appropriate for these tribal appointments to be reviewed by the Washington State Senate.

  • Staggered initial terms are required in the 2016 legislation. However, there is no direction on how to divide the staggered terms among the positions. It appears that Ecology would need to determine the duration of the initial Board member terms. It would be preferable to address this issue in legislation.

  • Legislative guidance on Board appointments is included in the 2016 legislation. However, this important guidance is currently applicable only to the Governor’s appointees. The Legislature directs that the appointments are to “collectively” seek to provide: expertise necessary for strong oversight of the Chehalis Basin Strategy; knowledge regarding local government processes; and understanding regarding reducing flood damages and restoring aquatic species. This guidance should apply to all four appointing authorities (the two tribes, the Flood Authority and the Governor.)

More Information


Columbia River Water Supply

What the bill does: This legislation will affirm current Columbia River Water Management rules (WAC173-563 and 173-531A), which provide a balanced water management approach that benefit fish, farms and communities. It will clear up uncertainties brought about by recent court decisions regarding how water right permits are issued from the Columbia River and connected groundwater aquifers. At its core is a directive to consult with appropriate local, state and federal agencies and tribal governments on possible impacts to fish and existing water rights when processing new water right applications on the Columbia River mainstem. Based on consultation, Ecology may deny or approve these new water right applications, however approvals may include instream flow protections or mitigation conditions.

Why it's important: The legislation will provide clarity of the legislative intent of the Columbia River Water Management Act, passed in 2006, and certainty around Columbia River water management and permitting requirements. It will allow Ecology to continue to deliver integrated water solutions and to develop additional instream flow opportunities for healthy fish and wildlife. The added certainty will allow the state to continue to efficiently issue water permits on the Columbia River mainstem.


Funding Oil Spill Programs

What the bill does: The proposed bill relieves the $4M shortfall facing Ecology’s oil spill prevention and preparedness work by increasing the oil spill administration tax portion of the barrel tax from four cents to six and a half cents.

Why it's important: Each year, vessels, railroads and pipelines transport several hundred million barrels of oil over and along Washington waters and sensitive inland ecosystems. Every barrel poses a significant risk.

The June 2016 Mosier, OR train derailment is another reminder of the risk associated with spills from all three modes of transportation entering our state—pipeline, rail, and vessel.

The risks associated with all modes of oil transportation and handling require a robust state program (prevention, preparedness and response) to protect our communities, environment and economy.


Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Certification Account

What the bill does: Creates a dedicated account in the state treasury for Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Certification Program fees.

Why it's important: Ecology’s Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Certification Program makes sure that plant operators are fully trained and meet certification standards so they stay current on technical advances in operating practices to safely and effectively operate wastewater treatment plants. The program certifies approximately 2,000 professional operators who work at 265 wastewater treatment plants across Washington. A dedicated account would ensure that fees paid to the state are used to train and certify operators to protect public and environmental health.


Governmental Relations Contacts:

Denise Clifford
Director of Governmental Relations
(360) 407-7003

Vickie Van Ness
Legislative Coordinator
(360) 407-7008