The Washington Department of Ecology may dismantle derelict vessels in water instead of requiring the work at dry-dock facilities.
The Columbian reports new deconstruction permit rules would require agencies to control pollutants from leaking into waterways.
Agencies would still need to dismantle the hull and additional portions of abandoned vessels at permitted facilities.
Officials say permit changes could come as early as next spring.
Safe handling of derelict vessels became a statewide issue following the botched salvage of the Davy Crockett on the Columbia River in 2011.
The oil barge leaked into the river, costing more than $22 million to clean up.
Government agencies report there are dozens of vessels awaiting removal in the Columbia River.