State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA)

Pursuant to the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), RCW 43.21C and the SEPA Rules, WAC 197-11, Whatcom County has adopted Chapter 16.08 of the Whatcom County Code (WCC) which requires review of certain proposals to assess the impact of those proposals on the environment before making decisions.

Determination Categories
There are 3 categories of determinations that may be issued through SEPA. The determination is made after review of an Environmental Checklist (PDF). The purpose of the checklist is to provide information to help identify impacts from a proposal or to reduce or avoid impacts from the proposal.

Determinations are:
  • A Determination of Nonsignificance (DNS) may be issued if it is found that any significant environmental impacts from a proposal are already addressed by existing codes.
  • A Mitigated Determination of Nonsignificance (MDNS) may be issued if there are significant environmental impacts requiring mitigation not already addressed by existing codes. Any mitigating conditions become conditions of project approval through substantive authority.
  • A Determination of Significance (DS) will be issued if it is found that a proposal will have probable significant adverse environmental impacts that cannot be mitigated. Issuance of a DS requires an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to be prepared.
Some actions are categorically exempt from SEPA threshold determination and EIS requirements. The exemptions are found in Article lll of WCC 16.08, WAC 197-11-800 and RCW 43.21C.