More trains not more airports
[Ed note: In 2020 the Washington legislators responded to a “forecasted shortage of capacity for commercial air passenger service, air cargo and general aviation” by setting up the Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission (CACC), The Commission recommended a single preferred location for major airport, along with ways to accommodate capacity needs at other facilities.
The CCAC in September selected three locations (out of an initial 10) for further consideration: Pierce County Central, Pierce County East—and Thurston County Central (see graphic).
Sue Cummings started this petition setting forth reasons the Thurston County site should not be considered as a location.]
To the WA state legislature, Governor Inslee, WSDOT, Thurston county local leaders, stakeholders and members of the community:
We the undersigned strongly oppose creation of a new major commercial airport in Thurston County. We call on the Thurston county commissioners to create consequential and enforceable land use rules to protect the community from this project. We demand that Governor Inslee and WSDOT remove the “central Thurston greenfield” site from the Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission’s consideration for a new major airport.
The proposed central Thurston site contains 40 acres of land owned by the Nisqually Tribe and also includes parts of JBLM training areas 22 and 23. We ask that the Tribe and the Federal government prohibit the use of their land for a new commercial airport here.
Where the aviation industry sees dollar signs, the residents of Thurston County see noise, pollution, sprawl and congestion. We see the destruction of climate, natural resources, water and, in the south county, our rural way of life. The Washington public at large agrees.
In 2021 and 2022 surveys conducted by the CACC, the public said no to aviation expansion unless environmental impacts are mitigated.
The proposed mitigation of these impacts, such as electric planes, has been small scale and minimal. It is irresponsible to justify major aviation expansion with experimental and premature technology.
Adding another major airport to our region is not a sustainable investment in our future. The CACC’s vision of unfettered growth in regional aviation does not support Washington’s commitment to greenhouse gas reductions of 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 95 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
Regarding natural resources, the proposed Thurston County Central airport site encompasses 79 acres managed by the Capitol Land Trust as important habitats: The Spurgeon Valley Preserve, the Shermer-Deschutes Preserve and the Bentley Conservation Easement.
The proposed site is directly adjacent to the Center for Natural Lands Management’s Tenalquot Prairie Preserve and JBLM’s Weir Prairie Research Natural Area, both habitat for multiple conservation targets including the federally threatened Mazama pocket gopher, golden paintbrush, Oregon vesper sparrow, the western bluebird and the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly.
The proposed site directly overlaps the McAllister Springs Geological Sensitive Area, whose well fields supply drinking water to Olympia and the Nisqually reservation.
The majority of the proposed airport site lies on lands that are considered Category 1—extreme aquifer sensitivity, providing very rapid recharge with little protection from the groundwater pollutants that would be generated by a major airport.
We question the CACC’s growth predictions for the aviation industry. They are unchecked for changes in travel behavior, induced and artificial demand, and other transportation options. We believe that there are better alternatives like high speed rail to meet the region’s future transportation needs.
However, if the growing population of the greater Seattle area must have another major commercial airport, let that community, not ours, bear the burden of its creation.