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Governor Inslee signs largest overhaul of state toxic clean-up program in decades

Stabilized funding for state’s nearly 6,000 toxic sites

Olympia, WA

5/21/19 – Today Governor Inslee signed ESSB 5993 to reform the financial structure of the Model Toxics Control Act, the state’s toxic site clean-up program. Funds for this vital health and environmental program are largely funded by a tax on the oil industry, where prices fluctuate dramatically. This has left essential pollution reduction projects without adequate funding leading to a major state backlog. There are 6,000 sites across the state still left to be cleaned up ranging from school playgrounds and low-income housing redevelopment properties to major port restorations and stormwater pollution prevention programs. The bill also funds new programs to screen and ban dangerous chemicals in everyday products. The bill stabilizes funding by shifting to a volume-based tax and increases overall funding to address local and state needs for reducing toxic pollution.

  • Raise tax rate from $ 0.69 per barrel to $1.09 per barrel
  • Estimated revenue $475 million (2019-21) (compared to around $315 million without fix)
  • Funds fall into three categories:
    • Model Toxics Operating Account (60%) – Pays for state programs and employee work related to toxics reduction, prevention, response, and pass through grants to local health departments and solid waste management (around $285 million)
    • Model Toxics Capital Account (25%) – Pays for clean ups as well as prevention projects (around $118.75 million – typical funding range over last decade has been between $25 million-$70 million)
      • bill adds specific actions to redevelop properties for affordable housing
    • Model Toxics Stormwater Account (15%) – more green infrastructure retrofits and projects that reduce stormwater runoff ($71.25 million)

“So many communities across our state have waited years for these dangerous polluted sites to be cleaned up and reduce our largest source of water pollution: toxic runoff,” said Darcy Nonemacher, Government Affairs Director, Washington Environmental Council and Washington Conservation Voters. “Washington now has the tools we need to get to work tackling the more than 6,000 polluted sites we still have left and prevent pollution from flowing into our neighborhoods, homes, and waterways in the first place.”

“This law has not been updated since 1988 and yet in that intervening thirty years, we have thousands more sites around that state that require funding for toxic cleanups. In 1988, we did not address stormwater and yet we know now there are great needs for addressing it to protect our Puget Sound waters and the habitat of our wildlife” said Senator David Frockt, prime sponsor of SB 5993. “We have tried to increase the oil tax in recent year, but to no avail. This time we built a critical coalition of environmentalists, ports, and local governments who recognized that it was past time to modernize the funding structure of this program to ensure that that Washingtonians will experience a healthier environment for generations to come. This bill is a significant environmental achievement to say the least and I commend all of my colleagues who voted for it.”

TAGS: Legislative