RAPID/BulkTransmission/Washington/Environment

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Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop Toolkit

Washington Bulk Transmission Environmental Review(9-WA)

The Washington State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) requires all governmental agencies to consider the environmental impacts of a proposal before making decisions. A transmission project will be subject to SEPA if a state or local agency decision is necessary for their project. The developer’s project may be covered by a categorical exemption for which SEPA review is not required.[1] A lead agency must be chosen to comply with SEPA’s procedural requirements for the project. The lead agency is determined using the criteria outlined in WAC 197-11-926 through WAC 197-11-944. If the developer’s project is covered by an existing state environmental document or a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) document, then the developer will be given the opportunity to adopt the existing document.[2] Developers may also conduct NEPA and SEPA review simultaneously.

Developers must complete an Environmental Checklist and submit it to the lead agency. The Environmental Checklist assists the lead agency in determining whether the proposal will likely result in negative impacts on the environment. The following environmental elements are included in the checklist:

  • Earth
  • Air
  • Water (surface and ground)
  • Plants
  • Animals
  • Energy and Natural Resources
  • Environmental Health
  • Noise
  • Land and Shoreline Use
  • Housing
  • Aesthetics
  • Light and Glare
  • Recreation
  • Historic and Cultural Preservation
  • Transportation
  • Public Services
  • Utilities

Following the lead agency’s review of the Environmental Checklist, either a Determination of Non-Significance (DNS) or a Determination of Significance (DS) will be issued.[3] If the lead agency determines that the project will not have a probable adverse impact on the environment, then the lead agency will complete a DNS. [4] The lead agency will provide public notice of the DNS, and the developer may be required to participate in a public hearing.[5]

If the lead agency determines that the project will have a probable adverse impact on the environment, then an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be required.[6] The lead agency must conduct a scoping analysis to narrow the scope of the EIS to the probable significant adverse impacts and reasonable alternatives, including mitigation measures.[7] The lead agency will develop a draft EIS, and make the draft available for public comment. Developers may be required to participate in a public hearing.[8] The lead agency will then issue a final EIS following review of all comments.[9]

Local Process
Most often in the state of Washington transmission line siting and permitting is conducted at the local level. The local regulatory authorities include counties and incorporated city governments. Local government permitting requirements, including environmental reviews, may apply.

More Information

Determine Which State and Federal Permits Apply

Use this overview flowchart and following steps to learn which federal and state permits apply to your projects.

Permitting at a Glance

Washington Federal

Environmental Review Process: The Washington State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) requires all governmental agencies to consider the environmental impacts of a proposal before making decisions.
Environmental Review Process Agency: Washington Department of Natural Resources

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List of Reference Sources

  1. WAC 197-11 SEPA Rules (1984). 305
  2. WAC 197-11 SEPA Rules (1984). 965
  3. WAC 197-11 SEPA Rules (1984). 330
  4. WAC 197-11 SEPA Rules (1984). 970
  5. WAC 197-11 SEPA Rules (1984). 535
  6. WAC 197-11 SEPA Rules (1984). 360
  7. WAC 197-11 SEPA Rules (1984). 408
  8. WAC 197-11 SEPA Rules (1984). 535(2)
  9. WAC 197-11 SEPA Rules (1984). 460
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