AGC-backed hazardous clean-up bill heading toward passage

Legislation to speed up the clean-up of certain contaminated properties in order to get them into productive economic use more quickly is moving through the Legislature. The bill has passed the House and awaits action in the Senate. Connie Sue Martin of Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt and member of AGC’s Environment Committee traveled to Olympia twice to testify in support of the bill. 

Under the measure (HB 1290 and SB 5285), the Department of Ecology may offer an expedited process for providing informal advice and assistance. For requests for informal advice and assistance under the expedited process, Ecology must collect all costs incurred by Ecology in providing the advice and assistance. Basically, that means that developers and others can pay more in order to get expedited assistance and the issuance of a letter on the sufficiency of the cleanup.


Photo: Sen. Guy Palumbo, sponsor of AGC-backed voluntary clean up legislation, visits with AGC Environment Committee member Connie Sue Martin of Schwabe Williamson and Wyatt.

Members of AGC’s Environment Committee and developers worked with Ecology to craft the bill. AGC members were concerned by the large backlog of properties waiting to be cleaned up and to receive Ecology’s approval so they can move forward for development. 

In committee testimony, Martin explained that the voluntary cleanup program plays a critical role in cleanup of hazardous sites because cleanups are often driven by redevelopment and sale. Opinion letters from Ecology are very important because without them, owners may not be able to sell or develop the property. Over the last few years, supply has not kept up with the demand for voluntary cleanup assistance, which makes it difficult for projects that may be on short timetables.

The House bill, sponsored by Rep. Strom Peterson (D-21), was recently passed unanimously by the full House. The Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Guy Palumbo (D-1), has been passed out of the Senate Environment and Energy Committee and the Ways and Means Committee, and awaits action of the Senate floor.

For more information, contact AGC Chief Lobbyist Jerry VanderWood, 360.352.5000.