(1) If the requirements of subsection (2) of this section are satisfied, a county, city, or town reviewing a project action shall determine that the requirements for environmental analysis, protection, and mitigation measures in the county, city, or town's development regulations and comprehensive plans adopted under chapter 36.70A
RCW, and in other applicable local, state, or federal laws and rules provide adequate analysis of and mitigation for the specific adverse environmental impacts of the project action to which the requirements apply. Rules adopted by the department according to RCW 43.21C.110
regarding project specific impacts that may not have been adequately addressed apply to any determination made under this section. In these situations, in which all adverse environmental impacts will be mitigated below the level of significance as a result of mitigation measures included by changing, clarifying, or conditioning of the proposed action and/or regulatory requirements of development regulations adopted under chapter 36.70A
RCW or other local, state, or federal laws, a determination of nonsignificance or a mitigated determination of nonsignificance is the proper threshold determination.
(2) A county, city, or town shall make the determination provided for in subsection (1) of this section if:
(a) In the course of project review, including any required environmental analysis, the local government considers the specific probable adverse environmental impacts of the proposed action and determines that these specific impacts are adequately addressed by the development regulations or other applicable requirements of the comprehensive plan, subarea plan element of the comprehensive plan, or other local, state, or federal rules or laws; and
(b) The local government bases or conditions its approval on compliance with these requirements or mitigation measures.
(3) If a county, city, or town's comprehensive plans, subarea plans, and development regulations adequately address a project's probable specific adverse environmental impacts, as determined under subsections (1) and (2) of this section, the county, city, or town shall not impose additional mitigation under this chapter during project review. Project review shall be integrated with environmental analysis under this chapter.
(4) A comprehensive plan, subarea plan, or development regulation shall be considered to adequately address an impact if the county, city, or town, through the planning and environmental review process under chapter 36.70A
RCW and this chapter, has identified the specific adverse environmental impacts and:
(a) The impacts have been avoided or otherwise mitigated; or
(b) The legislative body of the county, city, or town has designated as acceptable certain levels of service, land use designations, development standards, or other land use planning required or allowed by chapter 36.70A
(5) In deciding whether a specific adverse environmental impact has been addressed by an existing rule or law of another agency with jurisdiction with environmental expertise with regard to a specific environmental impact, the county, city, or town shall consult orally or in writing with that agency and may expressly defer to that agency. In making this deferral, the county, city, or town shall base or condition its project approval on compliance with these other existing rules or laws.
(6) Nothing in this section limits the authority of an agency in its review or mitigation of a project to adopt or otherwise rely on environmental analyses and requirements under other laws, as provided by this chapter.
(7) This section shall apply only to a county, city, or town planning under RCW 36.70A.040
Findings—Intent—1995 c 347 § 202:
"(1) The legislature finds in adopting RCW 43.21C.240
(a) Comprehensive plans and development regulations adopted by counties, cities, and towns under chapter 36.70A
RCW and environmental laws and rules adopted by the state and federal government have addressed a wide range of environmental subjects and impacts. These plans, regulations, rules, and laws often provide environmental analysis and mitigation measures for project actions without the need for an environmental impact statement or further project mitigation.
(b) Existing plans, regulations, rules, or laws provide environmental analysis and measures that avoid or otherwise mitigate the probable specific adverse environmental impacts of proposed projects should be integrated with, and should not be duplicated by, environmental review under chapter 43.21C
(c) Proposed projects should continue to receive environmental review, which should be conducted in a manner that is integrated with and does not duplicate other requirements. Project-level environmental review should be used to: (i) Review and document consistency with comprehensive plans and development regulations; (ii) provide prompt and coordinated review by government agencies and the public on compliance with applicable environmental laws and plans, including mitigation for specific project impacts that have not been considered and addressed at the plan or development regulation level; and (iii) ensure accountability by local government to applicants and the public for requiring and implementing mitigation measures.
(d) When a project permit application is filed, an agency should analyze the proposal's environmental impacts, as required by applicable regulations and the environmental review process required by this chapter, in one project review process. The project review process should include land use, environmental, public, and governmental review, as provided by the applicable regulations and the rules adopted under this chapter, so that documents prepared under different requirements can be reviewed together by the public and other agencies. This project review will provide an agency with the information necessary to make a decision on the proposed project.
(e) Through this project review process: (i) If the applicable regulations require studies that adequately analyze all of the project's specific probable adverse environmental impacts, additional studies under this chapter will not be necessary on those impacts; (ii) if the applicable regulations require measures that adequately address such environmental impacts, additional measures would likewise not be required under this chapter; and (iii) if the applicable regulations do not adequately analyze or address a proposal's specific probable adverse environmental impacts, this chapter provides the authority and procedures for additional review.
(2) The legislature intends that a primary role of environmental review under chapter 43.21C
RCW is to focus on the gaps and overlaps that may exist in applicable laws and requirements related to a proposed action. The review of project actions conducted by counties, cities, and towns planning under RCW 36.70A.040
should integrate environmental review with project review. Chapter 43.21C
RCW should not be used as a substitute for other land use planning and environmental requirements." [ 1995 c 347 § 201