It shall be the duty and function of the department of ecology:
(1) To adopt and amend rules of interpretation and implementation of this chapter, subject to the requirements of chapter 34.05
RCW, for the purpose of providing uniform rules and guidelines to all branches of government including state agencies, political subdivisions, public and municipal corporations, and counties. The proposed rules shall be subject to full public hearings requirements associated with rule adoption. Suggestions for modifications of the proposed rules shall be considered on their merits, and the department shall have the authority and responsibility for full and appropriate independent adoption of rules, assuring consistency with this chapter as amended and with the preservation of protections afforded by this chapter. The rule-making powers authorized in this section shall include, but shall not be limited to, the following phases of interpretation and implementation of this chapter:
(a) Categories of governmental actions which are not to be considered as potential major actions significantly affecting the quality of the environment, including categories pertaining to applications for water right permits pursuant to chapters 90.03
RCW. The types of actions included as categorical exemptions in the rules shall be limited to those types which are not major actions significantly affecting the quality of the environment. The rules shall provide for certain circumstances where actions which potentially are categorically exempt require environmental review. An action that is categorically exempt under the rules adopted by the department may not be conditioned or denied under this chapter.
(b) Rules for criteria and procedures applicable to the determination of when an act of a branch of government is a major action significantly affecting the quality of the environment for which a detailed statement is required to be prepared pursuant to RCW 43.21C.030
(c) Rules and procedures applicable to the preparation of detailed statements and other environmental documents, including but not limited to rules for timing of environmental review, obtaining comments, data and other information, and providing for and determining areas of public participation which shall include the scope and review of draft environmental impact statements.
(d) Scope of coverage and contents of detailed statements assuring that such statements are simple, uniform, and as short as practicable; statements are required to analyze only reasonable alternatives and probable adverse environmental impacts which are significant, and may analyze beneficial impacts.
(e) Rules and procedures for public notification of actions taken and documents prepared.
(f) Definition of terms relevant to the implementation of this chapter including the establishment of a list of elements of the environment. Analysis of environmental considerations under RCW 43.21C.030
(2) may be required only for those subjects listed as elements of the environment (or portions thereof). The list of elements of the environment shall consist of the "natural" and "built" environment. The elements of the built environment shall consist of public services and utilities (such as water, sewer, schools, fire and police protection), transportation, environmental health (such as explosive materials and toxic waste), and land and shoreline use (including housing, and a description of the relationships with land use and shoreline plans and designations, including population).
(g) Rules for determining the obligations and powers under this chapter of two or more branches of government involved in the same project significantly affecting the quality of the environment.
(h) Methods to assure adequate public awareness of the preparation and issuance of detailed statements required by RCW 43.21C.030
(i) To prepare rules for projects setting forth the time limits within which the governmental entity responsible for the action shall comply with the provisions of this chapter.
(j) Rules for utilization of a detailed statement for more than one action and rules improving environmental analysis of nonproject proposals and encouraging better interagency coordination and integration between this chapter and other environmental laws.
(k) Rules relating to actions which shall be exempt from the provisions of this chapter in situations of emergency.
(l) Rules relating to the use of environmental documents in planning and decision making and the implementation of the substantive policies and requirements of this chapter, including procedures for appeals under this chapter.
(m) Rules and procedures that provide for the integration of environmental review with project review as provided in RCW 43.21C.240
. The rules and procedures shall be jointly developed with the department of commerce and shall be applicable to the preparation of environmental documents for actions in counties, cities, and towns planning under RCW 36.70A.040
. The rules and procedures shall also include procedures and criteria to analyze planned actions under RCW 43.21C.440
and revisions to the rules adopted under this section to ensure that they are compatible with the requirements and authorizations of chapter 347, Laws of 1995, as amended by chapter 429, Laws of 1997. Ordinances or procedures adopted by a county, city, or town to implement the provisions of chapter 347, Laws of 1995 prior to the effective date of rules adopted under this subsection (1)(m) shall continue to be effective until the adoption of any new or revised ordinances or procedures that may be required. If any revisions are required as a result of rules adopted under this subsection (1)(m), those revisions shall be made within the time limits specified in RCW 43.21C.120
(2) In exercising its powers, functions, and duties under this section, the department may:
(a) Consult with the state agencies and with representatives of science, industry, agriculture, labor, conservation organizations, state and local governments, and other groups, as it deems advisable; and
(b) Utilize, to the fullest extent possible, the services, facilities, and information (including statistical information) of public and private agencies, organizations, and individuals, in order to avoid duplication of effort and expense, overlap, or conflict with similar activities authorized by law and performed by established agencies.
(3) Rules adopted pursuant to this section shall be subject to the review procedures of chapter 34.05