2022 legislative priorities

Decorative: salmon recovery, invest in clean water, build climate resiliency, protect & restore habitat


Legislative agenda

Salmon recovery, investing in clean water infrastructure, climate resilience, and protecting Washington waters are priority issues for us in the 2022 legislative session. Throughout session you can check the status of our agency request bills on this webpage. 

Salmon recovery

In Washington and across the Pacific Northwest, salmon populations are struggling. Climate change, habitat loss, pollution, and other factors are hampering salmon recovery efforts.

The Governor’s 2022 supplemental operating and capital budgets recognize the importance of salmon recovery. The budgets provide $24 million in new funding and resources to invest in clean water infrastructure for salmon and people.

Salmon are struggling to survive. They need clean, cool water to spawn, incubate eggs in the stream gravel, and rear young smolts. The Governor's proposed investments accelerate improvements to water quality, decrease stream and river temperatures, and reduce nutrient pollution which all contribute to the recovery of salmon.

The proposed funding will:

  • Build green infrastructure projects to boost stream flows during critical periods and improve stream resilience due to climate change impacts.
  • Develop guidance that encourages reclaimed water use in areas with deficient water flows and temperatures for salmon.
  • Accelerate toxics cleanup in stormwater runoff from industrial and contaminated sites where salmon runs are at risk.
  • Improve water quality through stormwater toxic-reduction grants.
  • Study the ability of stormwater systems to filter out toxic tire dust and evaluate alternatives to current toxic chemicals in tires.
  • Develop local capacity and private investments to advance implementing stormwater retrofits statewide, especially among historically underserved communities.
  • Establish an advisory group to recommend how to modernize the state water law to include salmon needs for adequate stream flows and cool water.

Lorraine Loomis Act

This bill would create a new salmon habitat standard to protect and restore riparian habitat, the green corridors along rivers and streams that are important for clean, cold water during critical periods of a salmon’s lifecycle. The bill identifies roles for Ecology in supporting the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and incorporating riparian protection standards into shoreline management.

  • Protects and restores vital salmon habitat. 
  • Provides incentives for landowners to plant trees for cool, clean water.
  • Strengthens science, monitoring, and accountability.
  • Senate Bill 5727 information page

It is in the state’s best interest to maintain, preserve, conserve, and rehabilitate riparian lands. This will assure the health of fish, wildlife, and ecosystems for the economic and social well-being of this state and its people.

Tom Buroker
Northwest Region Director
thomas.buroker@ecy.wa.gov
206-594-0003

 

Clean water infrastructure 

Salmon and people need clean, cool water to thrive. Our two proposed infrastructure bills address water quality and habitat.

Wastewater permit fees

Properly functioning wastewater treatment infrastructure protects streams, rivers, and Puget Sound by keeping pollution out of local waters. This protects shellfish harvests and salmon runs, and ensures local waters are safe for recreation.

There is currently a statutory cap on municipal wastewater permit fees that results in underfunding Ecology's municipal wastewater permit program. We seek to remove the outdated permit fee cap so we can better support communities with their permitting needs.

Adequate funding is critical to ensuring community wastewater treatment facilities are functioning properly. If the statutory cap is removed, under the bill Ecology must work with permittees communities to establish an equitable fee structure through a public process.

Read our focus sheet for more details

The proposed legislation will:

  • Remove an outdated cap on municipal wastewater fees so Ecology can adequately support communities with their permit needs. 
  • Help ensure wastewater treatment facilities are functioning properly and protecting streams, rivers, and Puget Sound. 
  • Senate Bill 5585 information page.

Every community in Washington must manage its wastewater to protect the health of surface and groundwater. For many places, this means having a wastewater treatment facility with a water quality permit from Ecology.

By meeting permit requirements, facilities are keeping harmful bacteria out of the water, protecting shellfish harvests and salmon runs, and ensuring local waters are safe for recreation.

Facilities and communities rely on us to have adequate resources to keep their permits up-to-date and help them plan for emerging pollution concerns or other challenges.

Vincent McGowan
Program Manager
Water Quality Program
vincent.mcgowan@ecy.wa.gov
360-407-6405

Water power license fees

Water power license fees are required for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) licensed dams. These fees, initiated in 2007 and extended in 2016, expire on June 30, 2023. Ecology and the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife are seeking the authority to eliminate the sunset date on the fees so the state can continue to support hydropower facilities with certifications, permitting, and federal regulation compliance. 

The revenue from these fees enable Washington state agencies to help the hydropower industry meet federal licensing requirements that protect water quality and the protection, mitigation, and enhancement of fish, wildlife, and habitat.

The proposed legislation will:

  • Eliminate the June 30, 2023, sunset date for water power license fees in the state. 
  • Provide lasting revenue to enable state agencies to help the hydropower industry meet federal licensing requirements.
  • House Bill 1931 information page

Hydropower dams have the potential to impair habitat, water quality, and fish survival through the various ways they affect water temperature, sediments, oxygen levels, total dissolved gas, and the potential for leaks or spills.

Hydropower dams' impacts on water quality and habitat are managed by maintaining compliance with federal licenses. Fees assessed on the water rights to produce energy provide 55% of the funds that state agencies need to support hydropower facility operators and protect water quality. This funding expires on June 30, 2023. If this funding ends, state agencies will have limited capacity to support dam certification and protect the states’ people, fish, and wildlife.

Eliminating the sunset date on water power license fees maintains necessary funding for state agencies to support hydropower facilities and operators so that we can protect states’ waters.

David Giglio
Deputy Program Manager
Water Quality Program
david.giglio@ecy.wa.gov
360-480-2141

Addressing climate change

The Climate Commitment Act, passed in 2021, creates a cap-and-invest program to reduce major sources of greenhouse gases. Businesses that qualify as "emissions-intensive, trade-exposed" (EITE) are given special consideration to preserve these manufacturing industries in Washington.

The law gives EITEs no-cost emissions allowances and requires modest emission reductions through 2034, then directs Ecology to draft legislation to address their obligations for 2035-2050. If such legislation is not passed by April 1, 2023, no expenditures can be made from the funding accounts created by the law. 

Our proposal meets this requirement by gradually reducing the number of no-cost emission allowances EITEs are given between 2035 and 2050, while partnering with these industries to incentivize early investments in emissions-reduction technology.

The proposed legislation will:

  • Reduce the number of no-cost allowances emissions-intensive, trade-exposed (EITE) industries would receive by 6% a year starting in 2035.
  • Require that, before they can apply to receive additional emissions allowances above their baseline, EITEs demonstrate that they have employed the best available technology and that further emissions reductions are not feasible.
  • Add EITE emissions reduction and decarbonization projects to the list of projects eligible to receive funding from auction proceeds in the Climate Commitment Account.
  • Align with Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposal to appropriate $50 million to the Department of Commerce to provide EITEs with financial assistance to reduce emissions.
  • House Bill 1682 information page

In 2020, the Washington Legislature set greenhouse gas emission limits in state law, requiring total emissions to fall 95% from 1990 levels by 2050, in line with the reductions research suggests are necessary to prevent the worst effects of climate change. Our proposed legislation addressing emissions-intensive, trade-exposed industries will help Washington meet those limits, while sustaining a robust industrial and manufacturing economy in Washington.

Kathy Taylor
Program Manager
Air Quality Program
kathy.taylor@ecy.wa.gov
360-407-6880

 

Water supplies and drought response

More planning and preparation is essential in the face of predicted increased droughts due to climate change. Washington currently lacks consistent statewide funding for drought preparedness and response.

With additional funding, communities and agricultural users will have more reliable supplies, and actions can be taken that result in more cool, clean water for streams needed to support salmonids and other fish and wildlife.

We're requesting ongoing and readily available funding to prepare and respond to drought emergencies, including unanticipated and sudden droughts. We also need authorization to respond more quickly when droughts are declared. In many situations, preparation and timely response can solve problems before hardships become severe.

Read our focus sheet for more details

The proposed legislation will:

  • Provide permanent funding for drought planning and preparation to increase our state’s resilience to drought.
  • Authorize funding for Ecology to be available when a drought is declared so that we can respond immediately. 
  • Give Ecology the capacity and the tools that enable us to address drought hardships more effectively when they occur.

Recent droughts created hardships to farmers, ranchers, and rural landowners who lost access to water. In addition, drought was responsible for excessive water temperatures that killed hundreds of thousands of salmon, sturgeon, and other fish and wildlife. Reduced water supplies destroyed or damaged ranchers' crops and forage. Some rural drinking water supplies dried up, requiring water to be hauled in by trucks to meet even basic sanitation needs for the affected small communities. With anticipated increased frequency of droughts in the future, ensuring Ecology can respond more effectively is critical .

Mary Verner
Program Manager
Water Resources Program
mary.verner@ecy.wa.gov
360-280-2826

Spill prevention

We prevent, plan for, and respond to spills of oil and hazardous material in Washington. We work with the regulated community and others to minimize the environmental threat of oil spills from vessels, railroads, pipelines, and oil handling facilities.

Master oil and hazardous substance spill prevention

We're proposing an update to RCW 90.56.060 concerning the Statewide Master Oil and Hazardous Substance Spill Prevention and Contingency Plan. This proposed change would formally acknowledge our work with federally-recognized Tribes on the preparation and update of the Statewide Master Plan.

Tribal participation is critical to the success of Washington’s work for oil and hazardous substance spill prevention, contingency planning, and response coordination. They have expertise and knowledge that improves geographic response planning and many have resources dedicated to oil and hazardous substance spill response. The proposed amendments will acknowledge in statute the contributions Tribes make to every aspect of the state’s planning process, not just in responses.

Read about Modernizing State Planning for Spills.

The proposed legislation will:

  • Amend the list of groups described in RCW 90.56.060 with whom Ecology must confer as part of the process of preparing and updating the Statewide Master Oil and Hazardous Substance Spill Prevention and Contingency Plans to include federally recognized Tribes.
  • Update language referencing containment and cleanup contractors to include Spill Management Teams.
  • Include unannounced drills for vessel plan holders to the list of requirements for updates to the State Master Plan.
  • Senate Bill 5747 information page.

Tribal participation is critical to the success of Washington’s work for oil and hazardous substance spill prevention, contingency planning, and response coordination. They have expertise and knowledge that improves geographic response planning and many have resources dedicated to oil and hazardous substance spill response. The proposed amendments will acknowledge the contributions Tribes make to every aspect of the state’s planning process, not just in responses.

Jase Brooks
Legislative & Strategic Policy Analyst | Tribal Liaison
jase.brooks@ecy.wa.gov
360-951-9490