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Published on Friday, June 16, 2017

AWC expresses concerns with new MTCA bill

The Senate Energy, Environment & Telecommunications Committee held a public hearing on SB 5943 on June 14. AWC testified with concerns about how some of the provisions of the bill would affect cities. The intent of the legislation is to prioritize and provide additional budgetary capacity for toxic cleanup projects and to streamline the implementation of those projects. These are goals that cities can support. Unfortunately, the bill took an approach that would exacerbate other critical problems.

Key elements of the bill would:

  • Eliminate the authority for MTCA funds to be used for stormwater projects. Stormwater is a major pollution source facing the state, and much of the responsibility for managing stormwater falls to cities. Without dedicated MTCA authority, it is unclear where cities are expected to turn for state assistance.
  • Eliminate Ecology oversight of independent cleanups. Currently Ecology is responsible for ensuring local codes are followed in these cleanups. If Ecology’s authority is removed there will be no one with that responsibility.
  • Set up faster judicial review timelines and reviews of whether certain substances are appropriately considered hazardous substances for tax purposes. These are elements of the bill we can support.

It is unclear where this bill goes from here, it seems most likely that these are just conversation starters for next legislative session.