Chapter 173-321 WAC

Public Participation Grants



Lynn Gooding


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Ecology adopted updates to chapter 173-321 WAC Public Participation Grants on June 28th, 2017.

Under Chapter 70.105D RCW, Ecology administers a program for grants to "persons who may be adversely affected by a release or threatened release of a hazardous substance and not-for-profit public interest groups." Grants are used to "facilitate public participation in the investigation and remediation of a release or threatened release of a hazardous substance and to implement the state's solid and hazardous waste management priorities."

Why it matters

In 2016, Ecology obtained an independent audit of our Public Participation Grants program. The current application process for the grants requires a significant amount of time and agency resources to establish applicant eligibility and award the grants. Changes Ecology adopted are either specific audit recommendations or based on the agency's experiences implementing the program.

Input from past grant recipients and other stakeholders also indicated a need to increase the emphasis the PPG program places on reaching disadvantaged communities adversely affected by toxic contamination and cleanup work. Updating the rule now allows us to apply these changes to grants awarded in the 2017-19 biennium.

Scope of rulemaking

There were no changes to the adopted rule as compared with the rule proposed by Ecology on April 5, 2017. Amendments to the rule include:
  • Adding "highly impacted and low-income communities" as a priority consideration for funding.
  • Removing the requirement that you must have "three or more unrelated persons" to apply if you are not, a not-for-profit organization.
  • Allowing tribal not-for-profit organizations to apply.
  • Simplifying criteria used to evaluate applications.
  • Increasing the amount of allowable expenditures.
  • Eliminating the requirement to submit a new application for annual grant renewals.
  • Adding agency reporting requirements for grant award announcements and grant performance.
  • Revising the grant application process to authorize electronic submittals.
  • Establishing a method for distributing unused grant funds.