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2018 Legislative requests

The 2018 Washington State Legislative session ended on March 8. Every year, we identify 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.

Underground storage tank program reauthorization

Senate Bill 6159 reauthorizes Washington’s Underground Storage Tank program for another ten years, until July 1, 2029.  Reauthorization guarantees that one of our state’s most successful pollution prevention programs will continue its good work. Under this program, the Department of Ecology regulates and inspects over 9,000 fuel tanks throughout the state, preventing hazardous substances from harming our environment and polluting our drinking water. 

The bill was amended in the House to include the provisions of House Bill 2872.  The attached provision establishes an annual aggregate limit for insurance coverage provided directly by the Pollution Liability Insurance Agency for heating oil tank cleanups.  That technical fix will help ensure the insurance program remains viable should the claims made in any given year exceed available funds.

Wastewater treatment plant operator certification fees

Substitute House Bill 2298 amends RCW 70.95B.090 and 1987 c 257 s 6 to eliminate the current Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Certification Program (program) statutory fee, and allows for the implementation of a modern fee system that will be dynamic to changes over time. The new fee system will be established in consultation with an advisory committee in an amount that fully recovers the expenses incurred by Ecology in administering the program. 

After adopting the initial fee schedule, Ecology is required to conduct a workload analysis and prepare a biennial budget estimate for the program.  If fees increase above the state’s fiscal growth factor due to program expansion, Ecology is required to submit a report to the Legislature describing the need for a fee increase.  A new dynamic fee system ensures that, consistent with statute, the program is fully funded through fees, and is able to better meet state certified operator needs as the workforce, technology, and operational practices evolve.

Concerning anti-fouling paints

Substitute House Bill 2634 delays implementation of a ban adopted in 2011 that would have prohibited the use and sale of copper-based antifouling boat paints on recreational vessels. The new law immediately changes the effective date of the ban to 2021 and exempts wood boats from the ban. It also directs Ecology to conduct additional research and scientific modeling on the full range of antifouling paints and biocides. The results of that study, along with recommendations for future actions, will be reported to the Legislature by September 2019. This work will further the previous legislative report Ecology prepared regarding antifouling paints, which was required by the 2011 legislation adopting the original ban and which gave rise to the new law.

Strengthening oil transportation safety

The Strengthening Oil Transportation Safety Act, Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 6269, applies the five cent barrel tax to oil moved by pipeline, just as it is currently applies to oil transported by rail and vessel, helping fund current and new oil spill prevention, preparedness and response activities. The bill directs Ecology’s Spills Program to:
  • Conduct updates to oil spill contingency planning, drills and geographic response plans to address oils that may submerge or sink
  • Prioritize oil transfer inspections for oils that may sink or submerge
  • Certify spill management teams, often hired to manage a response to spills
  • Establish the Salish Sea Shared Waters Forum
  • Develop two reports for the Legislature, one on vessel traffic safety within the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound Area, and another on oil spill program activities and funding options
In addition, because the barrel tax revenue is not sufficient to fund the state’s Spills Program, the 2018 State Supplemental Operating Budget provided a one-time transfer to fund the program through June 2021. The legislative report on funding will help inform the legislature on how to fund the Spills Program on an ongoing basis.