Washington Environmental Council is a nonprofit, statewide advocacy organization that has been driving positive change to solve Washington’s most critical environmental challenges since 1967. Our mission is to protect, restore, and sustain Washington’s environment for all.

What We Do

WEC was instrumental in passing (and now enforcing) the foundational laws that help keep Washington’s environment healthy: the State Environmental Policy Act, the State Superfund Law, the Growth Management Act, and the Shoreline Management Act.

WEC builds power for the environmental movement in Washington.

We bring the environmental community together through the Environmental Priorities Coalition. Each year, over 20 groups that make up the Coalition select up to four issues to advance in the state legislature. Thanks to our focused power, we have been able to achieve groundbreaking solutions – from promoting clean cars and greener buildings to setting responsible limits on climate pollution to eliminating dangerous toxins in children’s products.

Through our Voter Education Program, WEC helps educate and empower environmental voters and tackle ballot initiatives that would have an impact on our environment. We worked to pass the Citizens’ Clean Energy Initiative, I-937, and we worked to defeat Initiative 933, which would have allowed irresponsible development across our state.

WEC works to address environmental justice and advance racial equity in all we do.

We are committed to expanding our reach to connect with all Washingtonians who have environmental values, as well as to identifying and dismantling institutional racism within our organizational practices, policies, and procedures. Incorporating environmental justice, racial justice, and equity into our organization and work is critical as we strengthen our relationships with partners who work on climate action, social justice, and equal access to voting in Washington state. Read more on our commitment to racial and environmental justice here.

How We Work

WEC builds and leads partnerships, mobilizes the public, engages decision makers, and takes legal action to enact and enforce environmental protection policy and ensure a sustainable future.

Our Financials

Your gifts and actions fuel our mission to protect Washington’s environment for future generations. We are committed to investing your donations wisely and strategically to deliver the highest quality programs.

Learn more about WEC’s financial stewardship and explore our annual reports.

What We've Accomplished


Washington’s First California-Certified Project

For the first time in the Pacific Northwest, a forest carbon project has been verified under the rigorous carbon offset protocol in California's cap-and-trade program. The Nisqually Carbon Project will generate 37,000 carbon offset credits after the first verification, with more to come in later years. This first batch is equivalent to taking 6,000 cars off the road. Microsoft, working with Natural Capital Partners, purchased the vast majority of the credits, 35,000, as part of its ongoing voluntary commitment to being carbon neutral, a growing national trend by companies to address climate change.


Standing Up To Oil

WEC is a founding member of Stand Up to Oil, a growing coalition of groups opposed to new oil terminals and an increase in oil transport through the Northwest, while working to improve safety measures for oil currently traveling through the region. Oil transported by train, pipeline, and tanker vessels impacts all of Washington – from Spokane to Vancouver to Grays Harbor to Bellingham. We are working to stop proposed oil terminals in Vancouver and Grays Harbor, an oil by rail expansion at the Shell Refinery in Anacortes, and potential refinery in Longview.


Record Opposition to Coal Export

Almost 300,000 Washingtonians live within a half mile of the rail lines that would carry 145 million tons of coal through the Northwest each year. These communities are natural audiences to target for outreach. However, Washington’s environmental base is not necessarily located in many of the communities along the rail lines. Using modeling tools, WEC identified and engaged people likely to care about coal export and the impact of coal trains on their lives. Voter Education Program tools helped drive people to scoping hearings for the Cherry Point proposal. Turn-out was amazing – 10,000 people attended hearings across the Northwest, most in opposition to the proposals. In addition, more than 120,000 comments were submitted to the state about the proposed Cherry Point export facility, a record.


Protecting Maury Island

For a dozen years, environmental advocates worked to prevent a mine from being built on Maury Island, the longest stretch of undeveloped Puget Sound waterfront remaining in King County. If mined, Washington would have lost the once-in-a-lifetime chance to protect this natural beach, wild madrona bluffs and network of trails. WEC, along with our partners Preserve Our Islands and People For Puget Sound, were involved in efforts to protect Maury Island even before it was established as an aquatic reserve. Finally, thanks to the work of so many people, Maury Island remains a place for our children and their children to gaze across Puget Sound to the shoulders of Mount Rainier, to enjoy the natural wonders of our inland waters, from tiny crabs to majestic Orcas. Through dedicated conservation funding from the state government and King County and private donations, this iconic bluff and beach property has been purchased and preserved.


Transitioning off Coal to Clean Energy

The TransAlta Centralia coal plant is Washington’s largest single source of air pollution. Working in coalition, WEC helped come up with an agreement to phase out the power plant between 2020 and 2025. As a result, 10 million tons of CO2 will be eliminated annually, putting our state one step closer to a truly coal-free Washington. A $55 million fund was also established to support the local community during this transition, as well as a requirement TransAlta install certain pollution controls prior to shutting down the boilers. This campaign helped jumpstart the fight against coal export terminals by developing a grassroots base for coal issues.


Ban on Toxic Coal Tar Sealants

In a big legislative win, WEC helped secure the enactment of a first-in-the-nation ban on toxic coal tar sealants, a substance responsible for significant stormwater pollution and toxic contamination in lakes and waterways across the country. Coal tar is a byproduct from the use of coal in steel manufacturing. Cleaning up coal tar contamination is expensive: cities and businesses spend millions of dollars every year cleaning up contaminated sediments, including pollution from coal tar. This preventative measure protects Washingtonians’ health and reduces the need for cleanup spending.


Latino GOTV

WEC partnered with El Centro de la Raza to run a targeted Get out the Vote program to persuade Latino voters statewide (with a primary focus in King, Snohomish, and Pierce) to cast ballots. We expanded this effort in 2011, engaging pro-environment Latino voters in the democratic process through bilingual mail and telephone calls. To our knowledge, these efforts were the first bilingual voter contact program conducted by Washington’s environmental community. Our efforts in 2011 resulted in 1,119 additional votes taken. Additionally the collaboration with El Centro is fostering new partnerships and helping Washington’s conservation movement build a broader, more diverse base. Latino community outreach has continued in our GOTV work in partnership with Washington Community Access Now.


Local Farms – Healthy Kids

In 2007, WEC joined with farmers, children’s health advocates, anti-poverty activists, and others to pass the Local Farms – Healthy Kids law. This program expands children’s access to locally grown fruits and vegetables, establishes a Farm to School relationships, and helps low income families purchase locally grown food by enabling more farmers markets to accept food stamps. By building relationships with diverse groups, we were able to work toward a common goal that resulted in one of the most comprehensive, far-reaching efforts in the country to promote state-level local food policy.


Climate Action & Green Jobs.

Washington Environmental Council helped lead the effort to pass Climate Action & Green Jobs; the law was the first in the country to link emissions reduction policy with measures to invest in job training for the new clean energy economy. Beyond advancing progressive environmental policy, the effort to pass this bill shows the power of collaboration within and beyond the environmental community. WEC is building on this success by continuing our close collaboration with Climate Solutions, with whom we lead a broad coalition that is committed to passing strong policies to reduce global warming pollution, decrease our dependence on fossil fuels, and transition Washington to a clean energy economy.


Save Our Sound 

At a time of failing Puget Sound health, WEC and our partners advocated funding to create a new agency to take the lead on Puget Sound recovery. The legislation established the agency known today as the Puget Sound Partnership to achieve strong recovery and protection goals, create an independent science advisory committee, and take important accountability measures to make sure state funding delivers action and results. The Partnership leads state government on Puget Sound recovery and works to fund critical protection programs.


Restoring Manastash Creek

After six years of negotiations, farmers, environmentalists, tribal staff, state agencies and others signed an agreement to restore Manastash Creek, as well as provide the water needed by local farmers. A big part of this story is how far the negotiators have come - when the process began, on farms outside Ellensburg the tension was palpable. The potential of a looming lawsuit was real. Yet, the desire to get to better place was felt by all. And over time the adversaries put down their guard, sat down to talk, and slowly built trust. We were able to come together and see the greater vision for successful water management – a revitalized Manastash Creek and preservation of important water resources for Manastash water users.


Protecting the Spotted Owl

WEC successfully challenged plans for increased logging on 1.4 million acres of Washington forests. The lawsuit was filed in 2004 after the state Department of Natural Resources approved a new ten-year plan for logging on nearly a million and a half acres of state land in Western Washington. Provisions to the settlement, such as to not log 42,000 acres of high quality Spotted Owl habitat in Western Washington, ensured protection for this important species in our state. This decision spurred innovative forest practices to improve forest health and protect threatened species.


Initiative 937 (or the Clean Energy Initiative) ensured that at least 15 percent of the electricity Washington state gets from major utilities comes from clean, renewable sources, and that those utilities lower our bills by getting all the cost-saving energy conservation available. WEC and our partners at NW Energy Coalition, Climate Solutions, and others built a large public campaign in support of the initiative and have repeatedly defended this important law against attacks each year in the legislature to ensure Washington continues to reduce emissions.


Electronic Waste Recycling

WEC worked with our partners at Zero Waste Washington and the Environmental Priorities Coalition to create a responsible and convenient manufacturer-funded recycling system for computers, monitors, and televisions for all households, small businesses, small governments, schools, and charities in Washington. E-waste recycling prevents toxic substances found in electronics, such as lead and mercury, from polluting the environment and will recover materials for use in commerce. And by requiring manufacturers to cover the cost of disposal, the program incentivizes making devices easier to recycle.  Since 2009, the first official year of E-Cycle Washington, almost 300 million pounds of waste has been collected and responsibly recycled.


Defeating Irresponsible Development Plans

I-933 was an irresponsible land use planning initiative that would have cost taxpayers about $7.8 billion over the first five years. It would have impacted critical areas that are protected to prevent flooding and protect fish, wildlife, and groundwater.  WEC allied with groups that represented farm workers, labor unions, Northwest Indians, and teachers, among others, to defeat this initiative.


WEC advocated first-in-the-nation legislation that required state buildings, schools, and universities to be built and certified as high performance green buildings (though schools can meet a local rating system instead of LEED). These green buildings save energy, conserve water, minimize waste, and improve indoor air quality – all at a minimal increase in construction costs but saving $50 per square foot over a 20 year period. Using LEED Silver Certification in buildings across Washington has increased the market share of these construction projects by over four fold and helped establish sustainable building practices in the industry.


Prompted by WEC and our partners at the Environmental Priorities Coalition, Washington lawmakers joined California and other states to pass legislation requiring automakers to decrease vehicle emissions. The then-Bush administration blocked state’s action, and WEC joined other states in legal action to pressure the federal government to act. In 2011, the Obama Administration struck a deal, allowing the higher standards to move forward and requiring lower emissions in all states – not just those who had passed this legislation. Clean cars show the power of state action to leverage change on a national level.


By working our partners in the newly formed Environmental Priorities Coalition, WEC helped lead a legislative campaign established a law to reduce the presence of mercury in products found in schools, hospitals, and homes. Mercury, a potent neurotoxin, harms human health and wildlife even at low levels. This success demonstrated the power of a united call for improving environmental conditions by statewide groups, and made Washington one of only 13 states to enact such legislation in 2003.


In 2003, Washington saw efforts to weaken existing environmental protections under the guise of creating a more business-friendly state. WEC mobilized members of the Environmental Priorities Coalition to successfully defeat a host of anti-environment bills that would have undermined existing public involvement and permitting processes. WEC also fended off numerous attempts to weaken the Growth Management Act, a foundational environmental law.