Declaration of public policies and purpose.
It is declared to be the public policy to preserve, protect, and enhance the air quality for current and future generations. Air is an essential resource that must be protected from harmful levels of pollution. Improving air quality is a matter of statewide concern and is in the public interest. It is the intent of this chapter to secure and maintain levels of air quality that protect human health and safety, including the most sensitive members of the population, to comply with the requirements of the federal clean air act, to prevent injury to plant, animal life, and property, to foster the comfort and convenience of Washington's inhabitants, to promote the economic and social development of the state, and to facilitate the enjoyment of the natural attractions of the state.
It is further the intent of this chapter to protect the public welfare, to preserve visibility, to protect scenic, aesthetic, historic, and cultural values, and to prevent air pollution problems that interfere with the enjoyment of life, property, or natural attractions.
Because of the extent of the air pollution problem the legislature finds it necessary to return areas with poor air quality to levels adequate to protect health and the environment as expeditiously as possible but no later than December 31, 1995. Further, it is the intent of this chapter to prevent any areas of the state with acceptable air quality from reaching air contaminant levels that are not protective of human health and the environment.
The legislature recognizes that air pollution control projects may affect other environmental media. In selecting air pollution control strategies state and local agencies shall support those strategies that lessen the negative environmental impact of the project on all environmental media, including air, water, and land.
The legislature further recognizes that energy efficiency and energy conservation can help to reduce air pollution and shall therefore be considered when making decisions on air pollution control strategies and projects.
It is the policy of the state that the costs of protecting the air resource and operating state and local air pollution control programs shall be shared as equitably as possible among all sources whose emissions cause air pollution.
It is also declared as public policy that regional air pollution control programs are to be encouraged and supported to the extent practicable as essential instruments for the securing and maintenance of appropriate levels of air quality.
To these ends it is the purpose of this chapter to safeguard the public interest through an intensive, progressive, and coordinated statewide program of air pollution prevention and control, to provide for an appropriate distribution of responsibilities, and to encourage coordination and cooperation between the state, regional, and local units of government, to improve cooperation between state and federal government, public and private organizations, and the concerned individual, as well as to provide for the use of all known, available, and reasonable methods to reduce, prevent, and control air pollution.
The legislature recognizes that the problems and effects of air pollution cross political boundaries, are frequently regional or interjurisdictional in nature, and are dependent upon the existence of human activity in areas having common topography and weather conditions conducive to the buildup of air contaminants. In addition, the legislature recognizes that air pollution levels are aggravated and compounded by increased population, and its consequences. These changes often result in increasingly serious problems for the public and the environment.
The legislature further recognizes that air emissions from thousands of small individual sources are major contributors to air pollution in many regions of the state. As the population of a region grows, small sources may contribute an increasing proportion of that region's total air emissions. It is declared to be the policy of the state to achieve significant reductions in emissions from those small sources whose aggregate emissions constitute a significant contribution to air pollution in a particular region.
It is the intent of the legislature that air pollution goals be incorporated in the missions and actions of state agencies.
[1991 c 199 § 102; 1973 1st ex.s. c 193 § 1; 1969 ex.s. c 168 § 1; 1967 c 238 § 1.]
| Finding -- 1991 c 199: "The legislature finds that ambient air pollution is the most serious environmental threat in Washington state. Air pollution causes significant harm to human health; damages the environment, including trees, crops, and animals; causes deterioration of equipment and materials; contributes to water pollution; and degrades the quality of life.|
Over three million residents of Washington state live where air pollution levels are considered unhealthful. Of all toxic chemicals released into the environment more than half enter our breathing air. Citizens of Washington state spend hundreds of millions of dollars annually to offset health, environmental, and material damage caused by air pollution. The legislature considers such air pollution levels, costs, and damages to be unacceptable.
It is the intent of this act that the implementation of programs and regulations to control air pollution shall be the primary responsibility of the department of ecology and local air pollution control authorities." [1991 c 199 § 101.]
Alternative fuel and solar powered vehicles -- 1991 c 199: "The department of ecology shall contract with Western Washington University for the biennium ending June 30, 1993, for research and development of alternative fuel and solar powered vehicles. A report on the progress of such research shall be presented to the standing environmental committees and the department by January 1, 1994." [1991 c 199 § 230.]