Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas, introduced Senate Bill 5201, which would allow for accelerated clean-up of toxic waste sites across Washington, creating thousands of jobs while cleaning up hazardous sites in our communities.
The Model Toxics Control Act, or MTCA, taxes hazardous substances, including petroleum, and generates approximately $380 million in revenue per biennium. The uses for these funds include, but are not limited to: water cleanup, solid waste handling, hazardous waste management, environmental health assessments, and many activities relating to reducing toxic substances in our communities. While hazardous sites have been identified, the funds are available and the skilled labor force ready to work, in some cases the permitting to approve these clean-up has taken several years.
Working with stockholders such as ports, cities, business and environmental groups along with the Department of Ecology, Ranker has developed legislation that would streamline the permitting process in order to accelerate the approval of clean-ups while increasing the inclusion of smaller toxic sites such as old gas stations with leaking underground tanks.
“Communities in my district and across the state are eager to clean up these toxic sites and create the thousands of direct clean-up jobs and indirect redevelopment jobs as these lands move from toxic dumps to economic drivers," said Ranker.
At the hearing on the legislation last week, the bill received strong, diverse support from a broad sector of the community, ranging from the petroleum industry and the Association of Washington Business to the Association of Washington Ports to the Washington Environmental Council.
“From Georgia Pacific in Bellingham Bay to the Spokane rail yards and Seattle’s Duwamish industrial area, the environmental and business communities alike understand the importance of cleaning up our communities and creating jobs, and creating long-term economic opportunities in both the private and public sector," said Ranker.
According to the Department of Ecology, more than 50 sites across the state could commence clean-up within four-to-24 months, creating approximately 600 direct jobs immediately and thousands of associated jobs as the sites move into redevelopment. However, if the funds are ultimately swept into the General Fund for non-toxic related budget uses, the ability to create these jobs and clean up toxic waste sites across the state will be lost.