34.05.271  <<  34.05.272 >>   34.05.310

Department of ecologySignificant agency actionIdentification and categorization of sources of information used.

(1) This section applies only to the water quality and shorelands and environmental assistance programs within the department of ecology and to actions taken by the department of ecology under chapter 70A.350 RCW.
(2)(a) Before taking a significant agency action, which includes each department of ecology rule to implement a determination of a regulatory action specified in RCW 70A.350.040(1) (b) or (c), the department of ecology must identify the sources of information reviewed and relied upon by the agency in the course of preparing to take significant agency action. Peer-reviewed literature, if applicable, must be identified, as well as any scientific literature or other sources of information used. The department of ecology shall make available on the agency's website the index of records required under RCW 42.56.070 that are relied upon, or invoked, in support of a proposal for significant agency action.
(b) On the agency's website, the department of ecology must identify and categorize each source of information that is relied upon in the form of a bibliography, citation list, or similar list of sources. The categories in (c) of this subsection do not imply or infer any hierarchy or level of quality.
(c) The bibliography, citation list, or similar list of sources must categorize the sources of information as belonging to one or more of the following categories:
(i) Independent peer review: Review is overseen by an independent third party;
(ii) Internal peer review: Review by staff internal to the department of ecology;
(iii) External peer review: Review by persons that are external to and selected by the department of ecology;
(iv) Open review: Documented open public review process that is not limited to invited organizations or individuals;
(v) Legal and policy document: Documents related to the legal framework for the significant agency action including but not limited to:
(A) Federal and state statutes;
(B) Court and hearings board decisions;
(C) Federal and state administrative rules and regulations; and
(D) Policy and regulatory documents adopted by local governments;
(vi) Data from primary research, monitoring activities, or other sources, but that has not been incorporated as part of documents reviewed under the processes described in (c)(i), (ii), (iii), and (iv) of this subsection;
(vii) Records of the best professional judgment of department of ecology employees or other individuals; or
(viii) Other: Sources of information that do not fit into one of the categories identified in this subsection (2)(c).
(3) For the purposes of this section, "significant agency action" means an act of the department of ecology that:
(a) Results in the development of a significant legislative rule as defined in RCW 34.05.328; or
(b) Results in the development of technical guidance, technical assessments, or technical documents that are used to directly support implementation of a state rule or state statute.
(4) This section is not intended to affect agency action regarding individual permitting, compliance and enforcement decisions, or guidance provided by an agency to a local government on a case-by-case basis.


Explanatory statement2021 c 65: See note following RCW 53.54.030.
Short title2019 c 292: See RCW 70A.350.900.
FindingIntent2013 c 69: "(1) The legislature finds that it is critically important that scientific information used to inform public policy be of the highest quality and integrity. Furthermore, the legislature recognizes that a public benefit is derived from greater transparency as to what scientific information, data, or records are being used to inform public policy or relied upon in agency decision making.
(2) Therefore, in order to help ensure that agencies routinely use scientifically credible information in conducting their policy-making functions, it is the intent of the legislature to have those sources of scientific information reviewed and relied upon by agencies be identified in a clear and transparent way." [ 2013 c 69 § 1.]
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