Reader Opinion

Mega Airport #2 in Thurston County? Governor’s Surprise Veto

Leaves many communities guessing


The 2023 legislature's Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1791 (2023 ESHB1791) was set to continue the site search, with some better community involvement, better specificity as to excludable areas, and in the larger context of all modes of transportation than its predecessor, all the while continuing to harp on capacity shortfall claims that are sourced from the
industry itself, lacking explanations to the Public.

Of course, the industry wants to continue to grow as before, as if more cruise ships in the Port of Seattle (people taking cruises fly in for or out from them), and faster air cargo is climate
resilient, as if the aviation industry can continue to fake a substantive, timely contribution to greenhouse gas reduction goals, as if a new large airport benefits the local economy or the public at large, as if a new commercial airport is sure to bring relief to SeaTac communities.

The governor signed ESHB1791 on Monday, May 15, 2023, but vetoed large sections of it.

Per Veto letter, the Governor asks to look for additional commercial capacity at local airports first, and asked the current aviation expansion commission (the CACC), who was just about to make one final site-recommendation from two in Pierce County and one in Thurston County, to refrain from doing so. The CACC automatically disbands on June 30, 2023.

In reality, and not what the Governor, the CACC, the industry, or any of the newspapers want to report: the population has said No to another large commercial airport several times before, with solid data and thoughtfulness, yet unsuccessful with the SeaTac third runway expansion. Things have changed, though. We are experiencing climate change in our back yards and in our pocket books, we have scientific studies about harmful health effects in airport communities, including at SeaTac, and we know that aviation’s direct contribution to greenhouse gas inventories is more than 10% in Washington, and 28% in the City of Seattle, with which it far outpaces any other transportation mode.

Multiply that by three, to get the warming effect. 

This veto was a surprise. Open conversations about the pros and cons of aviation expansion continue to be overdue. In today's economy where wealth does not trickle down, is instead enriching major corporations, their shareholders and top management, in an economy where full employment means minimum-wage jobs for the many, certainly at airports, and where price gauging is called inflation, it may turn out that aviation is not as beneficial or needed as the industry and its politicians like to claim.

The veto is hopefully a door opening to policy that benefits the many, including local airport communities, such as around SeaTac. Thank you to the citizens who have stepped up to the plate to fill in for those who should be representing them, and thank you to civic engagement groups in greater Seattle and around SeaTac, who enabled scientific research and are influencing our congressional representatives and the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA).

          ~ Ursula Euler, resident of Thurston County 


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  • TonyW33

    Thanks for this editorial article Ursula and for you continued fight for the rights of our county's citizens. I voted for this governor twice and don't regret it but he is dead wrong here. We will never give an inch on this. There are way better options available than either of the ones that Jay Inslee supports. His point of view is simply partisan corporatist greed in this matter. Seattle is not the entire state, only a part of it.

    Monday, May 22 Report this

  • rmandery

    Thurston County for new airport? This one was DOA. The State of Seattle would never approve an airport of that magnitude so far away.

    Monday, May 22 Report this

  • Hill_Folk

    Thanks for the update and write up.

    Per ESHB 1791, we don't have to worry until July 1, 2024. Set your calendars, this issue isn't completely gone.

    Sec 4

    The state commercial aviation work group

    shall submit a progress report to the governor and the transportation

    committees of the legislature by July 1, 2024

    Section 3 directs the Work Group to simultaneously consider

    expanding capacity at existing airports and siting a new airport.

    However, it is important for the state to first fully consider

    increasing capacity at existing airports throughout the state,

    excluding SeaTac, before it considers siting a new airport.

    Saturday, May 27 Report this