March 6, 2017

'Shot Clock' bill passed the House, sets limit on EIS process

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Project permitting timelines could finally get some certainty this year.

That’s because House Bill 1086 passed the House unanimously last week. If approved in the Senate and signed by the governor, it would restore some balance between the need to carefully consider a project’s environmental impacts and maintain economic competitiveness of the state’s business climate.

HB 1086, known as the “Shot Clock” bill, would direct state agencies to complete an environmental impact statement (EIS) required under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) as fast as possible without compromising the integrity of the analysis.

Under the bill, the lead agency would have 24 months to fully complete an EIS. Currently, Washington does not have a set time limit on the studies. And, if the lead agency fails to meet the 24-month time limit, it must submit a report to the Legislature within 30 days of missing the deadline. It would also require a quicker process for governmental decisions with a narrower focus.

This bill would help Washington’s economy in many ways, including eliminating the uncertainty of the permitting process for prospective business owners. Millennium Bulk Terminals in Longview has experienced this kind of uncertainty firsthand, having their permitting process last for five years, and still running. Millennium first filed for its permits in 2012 and has since installed a running clock on their website noting how long it has been since their permit process began.

"Washington state has to take control of its regulatory process. For too long now, we've seen projects like Millennium Bulk Terminals caught up in endless project delays, and those delays are costing us jobs," said Matthew Hepner, executive director of the Certified Electrical Workers of Washington. "House Bill 1086 provides a clear timeline for both the project proponent and the agencies to complete an analysis. We need more certainty in our regulatory process."

The bill now goes to the state Senate consideration.

For more information on regulatory reform, contact Mike Ennis, AWB governmental affairs director. For environmental questions, contact Mary Catherine McAleer, AWB governmental affairs director.