Publication Title

Washington Law Review


National Environmental Policy Act, Washington State Environmental Policy Act

Document Type



As the Washington State Environmental Policy Act of 1971 (SEPA)'approaches its fourteenth birthday, the time is ripe for an assessment of its recent history and foreseeable future. Several SEPA milestones have come and gone in the last several months, and a period of stability is in order. Reported Washington decisions citing SEPA now number close to one hundred; more than fifty of these are decisions of the Washington Supreme Court.

The books are closed on the two-year efforts of the Washington Commission on Environmental Policy (the SEPA Commission), whose work culminated in a report to the 1983 Legislature. There was a legislative response, albeit one more noteworthy for what it did not do than for what it did; the 1983 Amendments to SEPA are decidedly a job of fine tuning rather than crude wrecking.

As directed by the 1983 Amendments, the Department of Ecology has finished work on the SEPA Rules. Known popularly as the Green Book, these rules will serve as the principal reference on SEPA for thousands of public officials across the state in the decade ahead.

Differences between the federal National Environmental Policy and SEPA are clearly discernible, and will be presented in the course of a discussion organized around the issues of: (1) threshold applicability of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) requirements; (2) statement adequacy or content; (3) SEPA substance; and (4) responsibility for statement preparation.



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