Essential Public Facilities, dangerous words

[Editor: this is a recap of the anti-airport meeting 1-13-23]

It was a brief moment in the meeting about a major international airport being considered in South Pierce County. It was the moment when people asked, “How in the world did they approve ‘the dump?'” The answer, given by former Senator Rasmussen was 3 words, “Essential Public Facilities.”

Those three words can dissipate all the agreeing and lip service that the elected officials give to the public. And in the case of the giant, smelly pile of slimy garbage polluting South Pierce County, those words pushed past sole source aquifer pollution, environmental damage, traffic, road destruction, and everything else the neighborhood warned about. Corporate money from Waste Connections, not LRI, not the LeMay family, was in the mix and the fix. The County Council declared the dump an essential public facility and built it, despite all the objections.

So, when hundreds of local landowners, businessmen/women and farmers show up to explain all the reasons an international airport should not be built in their back yards, and every politician in the area seems to completely agree with them, these folks are still cynical for good reason, experience. There is an off chance the same thing could happen.

Never mind that a 14,410 ft. volcano is only 50 miles away or that there are currently no roads that could possibly serve that level of traffic and that it would cost billions to build one. Quashing that declaration of “essential public facilities” needs to be in the legislative bill that Rep. Jake Fey promised to update or the county is still at risk.

The turnout was enormous on Friday the 13th of January, 2023. The Coalition Against Graham and Eatonville-Roy Airports put together and excellent program with subject matter experts and public officials. There were hundreds of local landowners with questions as well.

Public Officials: County Council: Amy Cruver, Marty Campbell (and in the back of the room Jani Hitchen and Dave Morell).
State: Senator Jim McCune (2LD), Rep. Jake Fey (27LD, Transportation Committee chair), and Rep. Tom Dent (13LD, Transportation Committee, from Moses Lake).
Former 2LD State Senator Marilyn Rasmussen
Orting Mayor Josh Penner
Pierce County Planning Commission member Chuck Sundsmo

Issues included having the state change the wording in a bill from may to shall. SB 5370, passed in 2019, says “may not site a facility on or in the vicinity of a military installation that would be incompatible with the installation’s ability to carry out its mission requirements.” Rep. Jake Fey, Chair of House Transportation said he will see to it that is updated.

Other issues brought up include:

  • Prairie wind
  • Climate in the area
  • Ground Fog
  • Air pollution, stagnant air vicinity, lead in aviation fuel
  • Artifacts from tribal camping sites
  • McChord mission flight pattern interference (all 3 airport sites)
    • Risk pressuring a base closure, JBLM is Pierce County’s #1 employer
  • FAA has not been engaged in Air Route traffic pattern & glideslope issues here
  • Nisqually watershed preservation
  • Muck Creek & South Creek impacts to salmon fisheries
  • Most passenger need is from North of Seattle
  • Elk grazing grounds and other wildlife from Mt. Rainier and the Cascades
    • Fox, bobcats, cougar, beaver, otter, etc.
  • EPA designated Sole Source aquifer
  • Pollution from in-flight fuel dumping – aviation fuel contains lead
  • Bonneville power transmission lines
  • Lack of infrastructure
    • Roads with already heavy traffic jams, 3 to 10 mile backups, need a new freewayLimited water for population, proximity to the landfill
    • Outside the UGA

Members of the coalition committee have asked people to go out to their website for current information.
It is https://noairporthere.org/

Watch the bills, write your legislators and keep the faith that the essential mission of JBLM will help stop this.

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