Photo of Doug Steding

Doug focuses his practice on environmental law and litigation, representing landowners, real estate developers, construction companies, industrial facilities and other businesses on issues related to hazardous waste, contaminated land and regulatory compliance. Doug leverages his scientific background in his legal practice and in the representation of his clients, bringing his knowledge to bear on remediation of contaminated lands and sediments. His land use practice also benefits from his technical background, enabling him to help businesses navigate the complex land use permitting process associated with permitting projects in or near sensitive aquatic environments.

Earthjustice, representing a number of environmental groups, sued EPA on Friday alleging that EPA is in violation of the Clean Water Act because it has not finalized the draft rule it published back in September that set water quality standards for toxics in Washington based on higher fish consumption rates. This lawsuit is not a surprise, because it came after the requisite 60-day notice was sent to EPA back in December. It is also not the first time this group of plaintiffs have sued EPA with respect to this issue, having done so more than two years ago. That lawsuit was dismissed on summary judgment.

Continue Reading

Yesterday, following quickly on the heels of Governor Inslee’s withdrawal of Washington’s version of the fish consumption rule, EPA released draft water quality standards for toxics for Washington. These standards, if adopted, are significantly more stringent than those Ecology had proposed.

Continue Reading

I have written extensively on the efforts by the Washington Department of Ecology to revise Washington’s Water Quality Standards to account for a higher fish consumption rate. This summer was when we were supposed to see the final rule be submitted to EPA for review and possible approval. In a nutshell, the controversy around this rule has to do with the upward revision in the fish consumption rate used to calculate Washington’s Water Quality Standards. That revision (from 6.5 grams per day to 175 grams per day) would result in more stringent WQS for many toxics—with the fear among dischargers being that those new criteria would be unattainable. Governor Inslee’s proposed solution—now over a year old—was to revise the excess cancer risk rate used in the WQS calculation from one in a million to one in one hundred thousand, and then couple the revised WQS with a package of regulatory efforts designed to address toxics from diffuse sources.

Continue Reading

In 2013, the Washington Legislature passed SSB 5296, which amended the Model Toxics Control Act in a number of ways. One of those amendments directed Ecology to adopt “model remedies,” defined as “a set of technologies, procedures, and monitoring protocols identified by [Ecology] for use in routine types of clean-up projects at facilities that have common features and lower risk to human health and the environment.” The intent behind this amendment to MTCA was to streamline and accelerate the selection of remedies at “routine” sites. In theory, the use of a model remedy at such sites would allow a party performing a cleanup to avoid preparation of a feasibility study for the site, which could result in lower costs and faster time frames in remediating some sites (if you are interested, the selection process is outlined at WAC 173-340-360). In addition SSB 5296 authorized Ecology to waive its collection of costs associated with providing opinions on model remedy sites, which could result in a modest cost saving for parties performing cleanups by enrolling in the Voluntary Cleanup Program.

Ecology was given a November 1, 2016 deadline to submit a report to the governor and “appropriate legislative committees” on the status of the development of model remedies, including the number and types of model remedies that Ecology has identified, the number of remedies proposed by “qualified individuals,” and the reasons why Ecology accepted or rejected those proposals. Also, perhaps in an overly ambitious way, SSB 5296 directs Ecology to report on the success of model remedies in accelerating cleanups, in terms of jobs created, acres of land restored, and the number of sites successfully remediated.
Continue Reading