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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
July 12, 2012
NEW — 10 a.m. July 12, 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.
Different factors contribute to summer air pollution. Several consecutive days of sunny, hot weather increase ozone. Wildfires produce smoky air containing fine particles and toxic chemicals. Vehicle exhaust also contributes to air quality issues.
People can lower exposure to air pollution by checking air quality conditions before participating in outdoor activities. State health officials recommended for people — especially seniors and others at increased risk — to limit outdoor activity and choose less strenuous things to do, such as going for a walk instead of a run, if air pollution is high.
July 10, 2012
King County and state officials recently launched a website to help protect people from illness related to toxic algae blooms in lakes and rivers.
Residents can go to the Washington State Toxic Algae website, www.nwtoxicalgae.org, to see if a waterway lake is experiencing problems from toxic algae blooms.
Come summertime, higher temperatures and increased sunshine feed the growth of toxic algae blooms in lakes and rivers.
In addition to being smelly and unsightly, algae can be toxic to people, pets and livestock. Toxicity tends to be the highest in late summer and autumn.
The county also launched a database in conjunction with the state Department of Ecology to provide a searchable website for data from algae samples. The samples come through the agency’s Freshwater Algae Control Program. Learn more about the effort at www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/plants/algae/index.html.
The program paid for the project with dollars from vessel registration fees in Washington.
The map-based website uses color-coded dots to flag problem areas. Users can learn the history of algae blooms in many locations.
Report suspicious patches of algae on freshwater to Tricia Shoblom at 649-7288, or at www.ecy.wa.gov/reportenviroproblem.html.
July 10, 2012
The state Department of Ecology is establishing a program to collect, transport and recycle mercury-containing lights — such as fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent bulbs — and the public can comment.
State legislators passed the law during the 2010 legislative session. The bill established a producer-financed product stewardship program for mercury-containing bulbs. The program is meant to allow consumers to recycle the lights safely, conveniently and at no cost.
The energy-efficient lighting contains mercury, so disposal can cause environmental problems. Putting spent fluorescent lights into the trash becomes illegal starting Jan. 1, 2013.
Broken fluorescent lights expose workers, residents and children to toxic mercury vapors. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin. Releasing the substance into the environment is a threat to public health.
Residents can submit comments at www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/swfa/mercurylights/rulemaking.html, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to Department of Ecology, Kara J. Steward, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600.
The public can comment on the stewardship program through Aug. 14.