Skip to content

Inside Olympia — WA Ecology Director Laura Watson

Washington Department of Ecology Director Laura Watson notes that Ecology was the first umbrella environmental government agency in the nation, preceding the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by months. This week host Austin Jenkins sits down for the full hour with Watson to discuss the work of the state’s primary environmental agency.

Tops on the list for discussion: The state’s Climate Commitment Act (CCA) and the carbon credit auctions that are part and parcel of the CCA, administered by Ecology. Washington is considering joining California and Quebec in a carbon market, a decision that will ultimately be made by the Ecology director.

Another top issue: Hanford cleanup. Watson says next year the cleanup program will begin turning low level radioactive waste – which represents about 90% of the waste in the Hanford tanks – into glass logs. The high level waste is due to start being vitrified in 2036. How long will the entire clean up take? “To be honest, I say I want it to be cleaned up this century,” says Watson.

Among other topics discussed: Ecology’s relationship with the entities it regulates, and the need for regulations that are achievable and still protect the environment; Finding a replacement for 6PPD in tires, the dust from which kills salmon; phasing out polystyrene foam food containers; recycling plastics; and reducing food waste.