Department of Ecology fines King County for trail work violation

December 18, 2012

State regulators fined King County $1,500 after workers failed to follow rules to stop sediment discharges into a municipal storm drain during construction on the East Lake Sammamish Trail.

The state Department of Ecology said crews from the county Facilities Management Division repeatedly did not install the proper controls outlined under the storm water permit to prevent sediment discharges.

The agency issued the fine July 20, but did not announce the penalty until Nov. 27, as the Department of Ecology detailed all fines issued statewide between July and September. Officials typically do not issue individual media releases unless a penalty reaches $10,000 or more.

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State’s recycling rate sets record, surpasses 50 percent

December 18, 2012

NEW — 12:30 p.m. Dec. 18, 2012

The statewide recycling rate reached the highest level ever recorded and surpassed 50 percent last year, according data released Tuesday by the state Department of Ecology.

The announcement marked the first time the statewide recycling rate topped the 50 percent goal set in a 1989 state law. The national average recycling rate reached 34 percent in 2010, according to the latest available data.

State officials said Washington residents continue to recycle more and throw away less. The statewide recycling rate for 2011 reached 50.7 percent.

The amount of municipal waste recycled by state residents increased by more than 186,000 tons in 2011 — up 4 percent from 2010 — or 3.64 pounds per person per day collected for recycling. The figure is the highest ever measured in Washington since the Department of Ecology started measuring recycling in 1986.

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Department of Ecology seeks input on environmental rule change

December 4, 2012

The state Department of Ecology is collecting public input on a proposed rule to give local governments, including Issaquah and King County, more flexibility for small construction projects.

The draft rule change to the State Environmental Policy Act aims to allow local governments more leeway to exempt minor construction projects from review under the law, such as small-scale residential housing developments, as well as certain agricultural, commercial office and school buildings.

The proposal also aims to simplify the checklist required under the law.

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State seeks input on proposed environmental rule change

December 2, 2012

NEW — 2 p.m. Dec. 2, 2012

The state Department of Ecology is collecting public input on a proposed rule to give local governments, including Issaquah and King County, more flexibility for small construction projects.

The draft rule change to the State Environmental Policy Act aims to allow local governments more leeway to exempt minor construction projects from review under the law, such as small-scale residential housing developments, as well as certain agricultural, commercial office and school buildings.

The proposal also aims to simplify the checklist required under the law.

Enacted in 1971, SEPA helps agencies identify possible environmental impacts related to government decisions, such as issuing permits for projects, constructing public facilities, or adopting regulations, policies or plans.

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Department of Ecology seeks comments on emission rules

November 13, 2012

The public can review and comment on proposed routine updates to the state rule for low-emission vehicle standards before Nov. 14.

In 2005, Gov. Chris Gregoire and state legislators adopted California’s vehicle emissions standards. The controls limit emissions of greenhouse gases and common air pollutants, such as carbon monoxide and fine particulate matter.

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Event honors late environmentalists Ruth Kees, Maureen McCarry

November 6, 2012

Environmentalist Ruth Kees and Issaquah City Councilwoman Maureen McCarry campaigned hard to preserve forested Park Pointe, and both community leaders left legacies dedicated to the slice of Tiger Mountain.

Leaders at the nonprofit Issaquah Environmental Council plan to honor the late Kees and McCarry on Nov. 11, in a public event to clear invasive plants and add native species to Park Pointe, a 101-acre tract near Issaquah High School.

Barbara Shelton, Issaquah Environmental Council secretary, said the planting event is designed to honor Kees and McCarry, and to encourage residents to explore the public land at Park Pointe.

Kees served as a longtime advocate for efforts to preserve open space and protect the Issaquah Creek watershed.

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Pollution Prevention Week focuses on economic benefits

September 18, 2012

NEW — 10 a.m. Sept. 18, 2012

Leaders touted the economic benefits of pollution prevention as Washington marks Pollution Prevention Week.

The effort is meant to highlight efforts to save money and protect the environment by reducing or eliminating pollution at the source.

The observance, from Sept. 17-23, coincides with National Pollution Prevention (P2) Week.

The state Department of Ecology said the economic benefits of pollution prevention include greater business efficiency, increased competitiveness, less exposure to risks, and reduced costs for regulatory monitoring, fees and paperwork.

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Washington Conservation Corps seeks members

August 21, 2012

The teams maintaining the trails on state and King County lands near Issaquah often include members of the Washington Conservation Corps — a fresh-out-of-college bunch eager to earn experience in the environmental field.

Like the New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps, the 21st-century equivalent enlists young adults to tackle habitat and infrastructure projects.

The state Department of Ecology needs applicants to fill 300 service positions in 16 counties throughout the state.

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Summer heat increases smog risk, impacts air quality

August 21, 2012

Summer in Western Washington means a respite from the rain, but the season also brings wildfires and increased ozone levels.

The result is diminished air quality and increased health risks for people battling heart and lung diseases.

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Hot weather means increased ozone risk

August 4, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. Aug. 4, 2012

Hot weather expected throughout Washington is expected to increase levels of ozone, the major ingredient of smog.

Forecasts call for high temperatures in the 80s and 90s throughout the state for the next few days. The conditions combine with vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors and other air pollutants to produce higher levels of ozone.

Ozone at ground level can be harmful. The substance is the main ingredient of smog and can cause health problems.

The state Department of Ecology offers a video to provide more information about how ozone forms. Winds often carry ozone-forming pollutants away from urban sources to rural areas.

Unhealthy ozone levels can affect everyone, especially pose risks for people with lung and heart disease, children, older adults and active people. People should limit activities and time spent outdoors as ozone levels rise.

Monitor local air quality by using the Washington Air Quality Advisory website.

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