Best Life Thurston Uncategorized Mega Airport in Thurston County?

Mega Airport in Thurston County?

Another Mega Airport in Thurston County OR ANYWHERE in the Puget Sound region?

Washington’s Aviation Expansion Work Undemocratic, Misleading and Dominated by For-profit-interests

Message to WSDOT and the Governor: Pause on aviation expansion, until new technology can live up to its hype and promise.

Governor Inslee, PO Box 40002, Olympia, WA 98504-0002


Becky Kelley
Senior Policy Advisor, Climate

Use new technology, such as sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) for existing commercial flying first, then let’s talk about expansion again.  Future efforts have to be balanced with public health, climate cooling, and all transportation modes – rail, road, runway.

Aviation/transportation has to collaborate with the public in good-faith and government has to represent people.  We are not getting that if legislators/WSDOT conduct surveys with bias information and pass legislation under the public radar.

Once again, an effort is under way to decide on a location recommendation for a new mega airport in the Puget region.  This time as a legislative mandate, with only commercial interests at the table, through positive propaganda and the withholding of important balancing information.  What’s missing?

The Public at the decision-making table and:

Respect for the surrounding community of a new mega airport, which is under approach and departure flight paths, as far as ten miles beyond the airport, and bears the brunt of the negative impacts.  Scientific research at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SeaTac) proves that.


WSDOT’s aviation expansion work group decided to exclude these important research results from its public communications.

The same research proves the connection between aviation pollution and inequity around airports, such as poor health, poverty, poor school performance, underinsurance, the closer to the airport, the worse.  Seattle/King County Health conducted this research at SeaTac (piggy-backing on earlier research by Tufts University at Los Angeles and Boston International Airports)  and reported on it to WSDOT’s aviation expansion work group.  So, ignorance is not an excuse here.  WSDOT continues to  purposely exclude it from public communications.

Unchecked Growth Forecasts:  The forecasts for passenger and cargo service-needs are sourced from the aviation/transportation industry itself and the details are not disclosed, according to WSDOT.  Yet, several billions with a “B” of public tax dollars would build a mega airport.  Demand artificially created by the industry is likely to inflate the forecasts.  And, they do not take climate cooling, changed business-travel behavior, and public health into account.

At the same time Governor Inslee, other elected officials, WSDOT and the aviation industry emphasize:

Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is coming soon – Independent knowledge sources, such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS June 2022 Can Biofuels Really Fly?) are valuable reality checks.  The production of a difference-making quantity for the already extremely fuel-thirsty aviation industry is decades away and requires a major agricultural shift in production from food to biofuel-feed-stock; with it, greenhouse gas emissions are shifted away from flying to propagation and production, with no expected emission reduction.

Electric flying brings the Airport of the Future – WSDOT’s favorite topic – maybe as leisure and ‘flying car’ concept for the well-to-do, but the electricity has to come from somewhere.  Range limits and heaviness of batteries make a broad commercial application unrealistic any time soon.

WSDOT is seeking feedback right now, online, presenting one-sided and misleading information.  And if the intent had been to involve The Public in decisions about the future expansion of aviation, then it would have been asked in 2019 before WSDOT Aviation Division’s work was legislatively mandated!  That legislation just seems to have flown under the radar.

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10 thoughts on “Mega Airport in Thurston County?”

  1. Could you please clearly state where the meeting/vote on the Mega Airport will be held on September 23rd? Thank you

  2. Today WSDOT’s aviation expansion group met (CACC). They reduced the list of ten potential new mega airport sites to three, two in Pierce County, and a third what they call the “Central Thurston County” site, which is between Olympia/Lacey and Yelm. This makes the Olympia Regional Airport a good candidate for commercial service, in my estimation and under, what they call, the ‘distributed flying’ concept. WSDOT and the CACC said they would also recommend to plan for the airport of the future, i.e. alternative aviation fuels and electric flying. Those technologies are a long ways from broad commercial application. In my observation it is more likely, that it becomes the justification for expansion, with no attached obligation or responsibility to implement. Need to guard against that, for sure.
    Ursula Euler,

  3. The King County site is the obvious choice. Why is it excluded? How can Thurston County make land use rules to prohibit this?

    1. Thank you for your comment. I have one answer for you, and that is that the enabling legislation, that mandates this aviation expansion recommendation from the WSDOT aviation expansion group (called Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission or CACC for short) to the legislature, excludes King county as a site. King County elected officials sponsored the legislation. They want relief from SeaTac – i.e. let’s spread the bad experience of SeaTac to elsewhere – and categorically excluded their own jurisdiction.
      Anything that would interfere with JBLM is also categorically excluded. I think the two sites in Pierce County would interfere with the air space of JBLM, but that is my unprofessional, common sense conclusion, looking at a map.
      And, regarding land use: I have been trying to get Thurston County Planning Director and Commissioner Mejia to look at consequential and enforceable land use rules. There is more about it on this Web site, and also language to demand those land use rules of the Commissioners. You can send them an email. In my experience, they need public pressure, to act.

      1. This is very interesting. Would you mind posting the name/number of the legislation that created this project so I can look up the sponsors? The proposed central Thurston site is centered on JBLM area 23, which the Army uses for helicopter training, so I would think that would also interfere with JBLM air space too. I am not an attorney but even if Thurston county had prohibitive land use rules, I would think they could be overridden by state eminent domain. I am hoping that a local law firm will step up to help the community fight this.

        1. The original legislation is 2019 SSB 5370. I have it posted on this web page at Local-issues/Mega Airport in Thurston County a Real Possibility Scroll down a little and then you see a link to 2019 SSB 5370. I plucked it from The deadlines were changed recently (partially due to COVID) in the Move-Ahead-Washington bill 2022 ESSB 5689 Sec 707 (see link on same page). I am not an attorney either, but know from certain planning professionals in local jurisdictions who pointed me to certain WA laws, that a local jurisdiction cannot – by law – prevent the siting of an airport, but it can issue – now my words: consequential and compensating – land use rules, except those that outright say No to an airport. Yes, I would love to find a legal professional to help. I have tried many months ago without success. Would love it, if someone else could be successful. And, after all, local jurisdictions will have to be involved. Thurston County primarily. Thurston County needs to get this going, and be the lead for the cities Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater, Yelm

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