May 4, 2012

Governor Acts on Bill Amending Environmental and Natural Resource Laws

On April 18, 2012 we sent a Legal News Bulletin notifying you that the Legislature had passed Second Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6406 containing important amendments to the state’s environmental and natural resources laws. You can see a more detailed summary of the amendments here. We also notified you that the Governor had not yet acted on the legislation. On May 2, 2012, Governor Gregoire approved the legislation except for Sections 305 and 306. She issued an extensive letter of intent explaining her actions. Read the Governor’s May 2, 2012 letter.

In her letter, the Governor explained her understanding of certain language in Section 301 of 2ESSB 6406 that directs the Department of Ecology not to add any additional subjects to the SEPA environmental checklist. Her understanding, which becomes part of the legislative history of the bill, is that the language was not intended to change, and has no affect on, existing SEPA law regarding the analysis of climate change impacts. She also explained that she vetoed Sections 305 and 306 because they had no effect and might generate confusion. They were designed to be accompanied by a provision authorizing cities and counties to assess “latecomer” charges that would recover the cost of SEPA environmental impact statements prepared to support local “in-fill exemptions” and “planned actions,” but this provision for “latecomer” charges was not included in the legislation as finally passed.

For more information about the Bill, please contact Richard Settle ( | 206.447.8980) or Patrick Schneider ( | 206.447.2905).

For more information about the Bill's effect on Phase II municipal stormwater permits, please contact Lori Terry Gregory ( | 206.447.8902).

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