SEPA Bill Advances from Committee
Senate Bill 5969 allows for timelier project reviews, predictability
OLYMPIA—A bill that would require state agencies and local governments to review the impact of government actions under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) cleared a first major hurdle today, passing out of the Senate Trade & Economic Development Committee.
Senate Bill 5969, sponsored by Sens. Sharon Brown (R-Kennewick) and John Braun (R-Centralia), addresses a continuing concern for the Association of Washington Business and members of the Keep Washington Competitive coalition — namely that rulings under SEPA should not be used to unreasonably delay or prevent economic growth and development. Under the bill, governmental entities responsible for SEPA must complete an environmental review no later than 30 days after publication of a categorical exclusion, a finding of no significant impact or a final EIS prepared under the National Environmental Policy Act.
"Washington is one of the most trade dependent states in the nation, and in order to remain a top trade leader and globally competitive, our state needs regulatory processes that achieve sound environmental protections without stifling infrastructure projects,” said Kris Johnson, president of the Association of Washington Business and a member of the KWC advisory board. “The goal of this bill is to retain proper environmental review without delaying projects, so that projects advance through in a reasonable and predictable process. Consistency and predictability are essential to attracting ongoing investments in our state."
Providing for a timely review process under SEPA is one of the three primary focus areas for KWC. Timely SEPA review is essential for continued economic growth and the development of infrastructure in Washington state. Extensive delays only serve to deter development and discourage future investments that create jobs.
SB 5969 now moves to rules, where it awaits review before going to a vote of the full Senate.
About the Association of Washington Business
Formed in 1904, the Association of Washington Business is Washington’s oldest and largest statewide business association, and includes more than 8,300 members representing 700,000 employees. AWB serves as both the state’s chamber of commerce and the manufacturing and technology association. While its membership includes major employers like Boeing, Microsoft and Weyerhaeuser, 90 percent of AWB members employ fewer than 100 people. More than half of AWB’s members employ fewer than 10. For more about AWB, visit www.awb.org.
About Keep Washington Competitive
In 2014, AWB and representatives from labor, business, agriculture and other trade organizations formed Keep Washington Competitive, a coalition united to protect trade from overreaching regulations and to promote bi-lateral trade growth in Washington state through sound state policies and fostering a regulatory environment that encourages investment in our state trade industries. To learn more, visit http://keepwashingtoncompetitive.com/.