Following up on last week’s post about Oregon legislative proposals, here are some of the mineral-related bills currently pending in the Washington State Legislature:

Oil and Gas

SB 5462 and HB 1611 – These two almost identical bills are follow-ups to the Oil Transportation Safety Act that was enacted in Washington two years ago. Among other things, SB 5462 and HB 1611 would (i) require that railroads transporting crude oil and petroleum products demonstrate financial ability to pay for a “worst case spill”; (ii) obligate refineries to account for different types of crude oil in their emergency planning and training; (iii) impose a public notice requirement if a refinery proposes to export more than 10% of its annual production; (iv) allow the Department of Ecology to share confidential information regarding oil transportation with elected local officials responsible for emergency response agencies; (v) levy oil spill response and administration taxes on crude oil and petroleum products delivered via pipeline to bulk oil terminals; and (vi) give the state’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) jurisdiction over crude oil pipelines that are at least five miles (rather than the current 15 miles) long. 


HB 1077 and HB 1106 – Both of these bills are focused on suction dredge mining.  Currently, suction dredge mining can currently occur under the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Gold and Fish pamphlet without an individual hydraulic project approval (HPA).  Under HB 1077, an individual HPA would be required.  HB 1106 would require that the Department of Ecology issue a general permit for suction dredge mining under state water quality laws and/or its delegated National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) authority.


SB 5470 – SB 5470 seeks to streamline permitting by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for geothermal projects.  As revised in committee, SB 5470 would allow a single permit to cover the drilling of multiple core holes, the purpose of which is to gather geothermal data, and exempt that permit from Washington’s State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA).  Drilling wells to discover or produce geothermal resources would remain subject to SEPA with DNR being the lead agency, although DNR would not need to hold a hearing on such permit applications.  SB 5470 would also require DNR approval before plugging and abandoning any geothermal well.

Land Use Planning

HB 1225 – HB 1225 seeks to strengthen existing state land use planning protections for mineral resources.  Washington’s Growth Management Act (GMA) identifies 13 goals that are to guide land use regulations in those counties and cities that must fully comply with the GMA.  One of those goals is to “[m]aintain and enhance natural resource based industries.”  RCW 36.70A.020(8).  HB 1225 would include mineral resource industries under this goal.  In addition, it would provide greater specificity about the designation of “mineral resource lands” under the GMA.  The statute currently describes those lands as being non-urban and having “long-term significance for the extraction of” sand, gravel, and valuable metallic minerals.  RCW 36.70A.170(1)(c).  HB 1225 would specify that pace of growth and market analyses cannot be used to restrict or defer designations.  HB 1225 would also tweak RCW 36.70A.060(1)’s notice requirements for development within 500 feet of designated mineral resource lands.

Federal Lands

HB 1103 – This bill would establish a legislative task force to consider issues related to federal lands in the state.  Among other things, the task force would prepare legislation under which the state would administer the transfer of all federal lands (subject to a number of specified exclusions) to the state with the federal government to receive 95% of the proceeds from any subsequent sale of such lands by the state.