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Recommendation: 37

Status: Underway

Protect against regulatory rollbacks at the federal and state level.


Action 1

The Governor and state agencies should ensure the State maintains and strengthens state authority, rules, and regulatory protections.

Implementation Details

The regulations that protect Southern Residents from contaminants are a mixture of state and federal laws and implementation. Historically, the relationship between state and federal regulators has been characterized by cooperative federalism and delegated authority. This historical precedent is being challenged through federal regulatory rollbacks to the Clean Water Act (including water quality standards and the definition of “Waters of the U.S.”), Endangered Species Act, and other foundational laws. Given the current federal regulatory environment, the Governor and state agencies should ensure that state authority, rules, and regulatory protections are sufficient to prevent moving backwards.

Recent Progress


  • The Department of Ecology was given $535,000 to develop a Puget Sound Nutrient General Permit for wastewater treatment plants to reduce nutrient pollution put in the water. The department issued the first permit December 1, 2021. The permit is effective January 1, 2022 through December 31, 2026. The permit applies to fifty-eight domestic wastewater treatment plants discharging to marine and estuarine waters of the Salish Sea in Washington. Information and fact sheets about the permit can be found online.
  • The Department of Ecology wrote a story in 2024 on how wastewater treatment plans slow the flow into Puget Sound. The department also created a video on solving Puget Sound nitrogen pollution.
  • The Washington Department of Ecology received $642,000 in 2021 for “Federal Waters of the U.S. Rollback” to work with federal partners to restore these protections, strengthen the nation’s environmental policies, and prepare for the future.
  • State agencies wrote letters to support reversing the rollback on the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act process.

More details may be found in the progress reports in the resources library.