Laura Watson

Director, Washington State Department of Ecology

Laura serves as a member of Governor Jay Inslee’s executive cabinet and as Director of the Washington State Department of Ecology. Ecology has over 1900 dedicated employees across the state, working every day to achieve our mission to protect, preserve, and enhance the environment for current and future generations. The Department of Ecology provides regulatory services and science-based analysis through ten environmental programs focused on protecting and managing our water resources and shorelands, preventing and cleaning up toxic contamination, oil spill prevention and response, preserving air quality, combatting climate change, and managing solid and hazardous wastes. Our agency emphasizes work in communities with environmental justice concerns, seeking to eliminate or minimize environmental burdens and maximize environmental benefits in these communities.

In the climate arena, Ecology’s teams are hard at work implementing 2021 legislation to establish an economy-wide cap and invest systems and a clean fuels standard. We also work across the state to bolster communities’ resiliency in the face of climate change, including focused efforts on flooding, coastal health, drought, ocean acidification, and health effects from wildfires.

Prior to being appointed as director in January 2020, Laura served 22 years in the Washington State Office of the Attorney General. In her volunteer life, Laura has worked for organizations that provide housing solutions for homeless individuals and free legal services for low-income clients. Laura’s husband, Dan, is a professor of mechanical engineering at St. Martin’s University and her child, Violet, is a proud member of their high school’s climate club and is pushing their family towards becoming a zero-waste household (which has been hard during the pandemic!)