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Regulatory Handbook -> General Requirements -> State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA)

State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA)

What is the Purpose of this SEPA Review?
The Washington State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) is a process (not a permit decision) intended to ensure that environmental values are considered during decision-making by state and local agencies. These decisions may be related to issuing permits for private projects, constructing public facilities, or adopting regulations, policies or plans. Information provided by project applicants during the SEPA review process helps agency decision-makers, applicants, and the public understand how a proposal will affect the environment. This information can be used to change a proposal to reduce likely impacts, or to condition or deny a proposal when adverse environmental impacts are identified.

In most cases, one state or local agency will be designated as the "SEPA lead agency." The lead agency is responsible for evaluating the proposal and determining if the proposal is likely to impact the environment. For most private projects, the SEPA lead agency will be the city or county responsible for permitting the project. For most public projects, the proponent agency is the lead agency.
Who Issues this SEPA Review?
State or local agency
What Activities Require this SEPA Review?
Any proposal that requires a public agency action (decision) to license, fund, or undertake a project, or the proposed adoption of a policy, plan, or program can trigger environmental review under SEPA. However, there are numerous categories of projects that are exempt from SEPA. The lead agency determines if an exemption applies.
How Much Will this SEPA Review Cost?
Filing fees for agency SEPA review of private projects vary by jurisdiction because each agency determines how much they will charge for SEPA review.
Do I Need to Include Anything with my Application?
There is not an application. This is a public agency review process. This environmental review for private projects usually starts when an applicant applies for a permit from a state or local agency. A completed environmental checklist (available from the lead agency) is usually submitted with a permit application to the lead agency. The checklist often includes attachments such as a site plan, vicinity map and any technical reports or studies that have been prepared for the project. The standard checklist form with technical guidance for each question is available on the SEPA website listed under the links section below.
Is the Decision on my SEPA Review Dependent on Anything Besides the Information in my Application?
This is a public agency review process.
How Long Will it Take to Review my Application?
Not applicable.
Where do I Submit my Application?
An environmental checklist may be required by the SEPA lead agency. Contact the lead agency for more information on what forms to fill out.
View the schematic
How Long is my SEPA Review Valid?
Not applicable.
What is the Appeal Process for the SEPA Review?
An Administrative appeal process is an option that agencies may choose to offer for SEPA decisions. Judicial appeals related to SEPA compliance is always consolidated with the underlying action. They are filed when at Superior Court when an agency's decision is final and the administrative appeal process is either not available or has been exhausted.
Notes / Comments:
For additional information on the State Environmental Policy Act, go to
Statewide Contact:
Department of Ecology
PO Box 47703
Olympia, WA 98504-7703
For assistance contact 1-800-917-0043 (Office for Regulatory Innovation and Assistance)
* Permit information last updated 2/6/2018
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