Here in Washington, the people value a clean environment and close, well-managed natural resources. I know this because of what thousands of people across all parts of the state have told me.
And I agree with them!
Two state agencies are primarily responsible for management of the environment and natural resources in Washington—the WA Department of Ecology (our version of what the Feds call their “Environmental Protection Agency”) and the WA Department of Natural Resources.
Both of these agencies have made so many mistakes and bad policy decisions over the past 20 years that it’s hard to keep track. But I’ll try to give you a quick recap of each agency.
First, the WA Department of Ecology.
Here in Washington, we don’t look to the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to guard against pollution. By longstanding tradition, the EPA delegates its authority to our state Department of Ecology. Ecology is headed up by a director, appointed by the Governor.
In its early years of existence, Ecology had scientists as directors. But, in recent years, its directors have been lawyers. This is a mistake. One that I’ll fix—immediately—when I’m Governor. No more lawyers heading up Ecology. The damage caused by the agency’s recent leadership is plain to see.
Ecology has become focused on expanding its “rulemaking” powers. (I discuss the constitutional problems with bureaucratic rulemaking in the Regulatory Reform section of this web site.) A growing portion of Ecology’s employee base is dedicated to rulemaking, which does nothing to protect the environment or curb pollution in this state. These employees are just bureaucrats pushing paper to push more paper to “require” the agency to push more paper.
Aside from expanding rulemaking powers generally, Ecology has over-extended its role in permitting various activities—construction, manufacturing operations, food processing—in this state. In its original form, Ecology was supposed to provide counsel and advice to local jurisdictions, usually at the county level, that made permitting decisions. Over the years, Ecology has morphed from a science-focused advisory role to a controlling, decision-making role. This is constitutionally-dubious and bad for the state’s economy.