Growing up in East King County, I spent my free time and my vacations hiking the trails around Mount Rainier and the Olympic Peninsula with my scout troop, fishing in the waters of Lake Washington and Puget Sound with my dad, downhill and cross country skiing with friends at Apental, Ski Acres and Crystal Mountain, walking the family dogs under the thick tree canopies of Bridle Trails State Park, and splashing around in the Sammamish Slough at Marymoor Park.
I was blessed to grow up in our beautiful region, and it instilled in me a strong environmental ethic at an early age.
Since being elected to the Seattle Port Commission, I have been an advocate and a champion for protecting the natural beauty around us. I have pushed the Port of Seattle to do better in stewarding our region’s precious natural resources. I have worked collaboratively with my fellow commissioners and staff, Port tenants and other stakeholders to set clean air and water standards much higher than federal and state standards.
That is why I am extremely proud to have earned the sole endorsement in my race of the Washington Conservation Voters, the largest and most respected environmental advocacy group in the State of Washington.
In my first two months on the Commission, staff asked the Commission for approval to build a new cruise terminal in North Seattle at Smith Cove. While I supported a project that meant jobs – every time a cruise ship sails out of Seattle it brings in $2.7 million to our local economy – I had concerns about its environmental impacts.
Working with the UW Environmental Law Clinic, I drafted a six-part environmental motion committing the Port to, among other things, installing shore power so ships would not have to run their engines while at berth. My motion was passed unanimously by my colleagues along with approving the terminal project.
During my first year as Commission President, the Port set the goal to be “the cleanest, greenest, most energy efficient port in North America” and we have been working towards that goal ever since.
Under my leadership, the Port has:
Clean Air and Carbon Reduction Initiatives
- Collaborated with the ports of Tacoma and Vancouver, BC on the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy, improving air quality in the entire Salish Sea air shed.
- Set goals to reduce air pollutant emissions by 50% below 2005 levels and meet future growth in energy usage through conservation and renewable sources.
- Partnered with Boeing, Alaska Airlines, Washington State University and other in the Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest feasibility study, which looked at the feasibility of powering large commercial jets with aviation biofuels.
- Set the goal to be the first airport in North America to supply aviation biofuels to all of our airline tenants and conducted a study on the infrastructure needed.
- Commissioned a study on ways to work with airlines and other local stakeholders to spur commercialization of aviation biofuels.
- Worked with the FAA and Alaska Airlines to be among the first airports in the US to participate in the Greener Skies pilot program, which is estimated to cut fuel consumption by 2.1 million gallons annually and reduce carbon emissions by 22,000 metric tons, the equivalent of taking 4,100 cars off the road every year.
- Installed 48 EV charging stations in the airport garage, the most of any airport in North America, and are converting all of the Port’s motor pool to electric vehicles.
- Required taxi and rideshare drivers serving the airport to use alternative fuel vehicles or vehicles that have high-efficiency engines of 45 miles per gallon or better.
- Moved forward a motion unanimously adopted by the Commission for the Port to become the first port authority to join “We Are Still In”, the coalition of local governments committing to continue efforts at greenhouse gas reduction despite the Trump Administration pulling out of the Paris Accords.
- Conducted the first comprehensive Greenhouse Gas study by an airport in 2008.
- Electrified the majority of ground support equipment at Sea-Tac Airport.
- Installed conditioned air and electrical plug in systems at all gates so that planes no long have to run their engines to power air and other systems while deplaning and boarding passengers.
- Cut aircraft emissions by over 5% and reduced taxiing times and fuel consumption by airplanes by repurposing the airport’s old air traffic control tower as a "ramp tower," used to direct aircraft when they are on the runways.
- Reduced energy usage at Port headquarters at Pier 69 by 50% below historic levels.
- Opened the Sea-Tac Airport Light Rail Station, made possible with help from the Port of Seattle after Sound Transit had financing only to build Light Rail to Tukwila (contributing a total of $110 million to ensure Sound Transit Light Rail access to airport terminal) and worked with King County Metro to increase transit to the airport.
- Made walkway accessibility improvements from the Light Rail Station to the airport terminal to encourage more people to use public transit.
- Implemented the recommendations of a Bicycle Facility Plan prepared for Sea-Tac Airport by graduate students in urban planning at the University of Washington, including installing bike lockers, a bike break-down/maintenance station and access to bike boxes.
- Won commendation from the US EPA for our program mandating the burning of low sulfur diesel while at berth for all cruise ships and other large vessels that are not capable of plugging in to shore power.
- Became the first airport in North America to be certified for reducing carbon emissions by a world-wide independent program, achieving Level 2 certification under Airport Council International’s (ACI) Airport Carbon Accreditation program.
- Facilitated, through the Northwest Seaport Alliance, the conversion by Totem Ocean Trailer of its cargo ships from being powered by dirty bunker fuel to cleaner LNG.
- Worked with drayage truck drivers to scrap over 200 of the dirtiest trucks and retrofit all others with modern emissions control systems.
- Implemented a new, stricter truck emissions program that will require all truckers using Port facilities to drive trucks which have 2007 truck emissions technology or better by 2018.
- Encouraged Port of Seattle stakeholders to electrify rail yards and deploy cleaner diesel electric tug boats.
- Worked with Louis Dreyfus, the operator of the grain silo’s Port’s Terminal 86, to obtain a federal grant to electrify all yard support equipment.
- Increased the use of green energy sources, including developing the Port’s first ever solar project.
Clean Water Initiatives
- Established the Port’s own storm water utility to better invest the millions of dollars needed into improving storm water runoff infrastructure at our seaport terminals.
- Prohibited discharges by cruise lines using Port terminals.
- Become the first US west coast port to join the Green Marine environmental program, which includes commitments on addressing air emissions, cargo waste management, water and land pollution prevention; environmental leadership and community impacts such as noise, dust and light.
- Earned EnviroStar ratings for environmental best practices at three Port of Seattle marinas – Bell Harbor, Shilshole Bay and Harbor Island.
- Achieved “Salmon Safe” Certification for Sea-Tac Airport, the first airport in the United States to do so.
- Adopted all organic landscaping techniques at our 60 acres of parks and public access areas, keeping harmful chemicals out of run off.
- Installed a network of storm water collection piping, retention ponds, storm water management practices, and wastewater treatment facilities to remove pollutants, reduce flooding and prevent spills at Sea-Tac Airport.
- Constructed and actively manage 160 acres of wetland habitat and two miles of rehabilitated stream.
Habitat Restoration and Other Key Initiatives
- Committed to restoring 40 acres of habitat along the Duwamish River, including cleaning up Terminal 117.
- Been working with the US EPA together with the City of Seattle, King County and Boeing on a plan to clean up the Duwamish River.
- Purchased the Eastside Rail Corridor from Burlington Northern, and worked with King County and Eastside cities to preserve intact the 44-mile rail line for use as a transportation and recreation corridor.
- Approved a $1 million Airport Community Ecology Fund and a partnership with Forterra to increase the tree canopy in neighborhoods around Sea-Tac Airport.
- Implemented an award winning recycling program at Sea-Tac Airport, recycling not only paper, aluminum and glass, but also things like coffee grounds and cooking oil.
- Adopted leading environmental practices in Port construction projects, including building to LEED certification standards and recycling construction materials.
- Adopted extensive Commute Trip Reduction initiatives, including complimentary ORCA cards for Port employees and locker rooms and showers at Port offices.
- Installed recycling bins, water refill stations, and compost bins throughout airport concourses, at security checkpoints, and in food court areas.
- Provided airlines with compactors to make it easier for them to divert waste after flights.
- Required airport dining and retail businesses recycle and compost their waste, and to use compostable service ware and utensils.
- Worked with concessionaires to establish a program of increased food donations, with over 45,000 meals per year sent to local food banks. In addition, the airport donates used cooking oil from concessionaires to be made into biofuels.
- Installed honeybee boxes near the Sea-Tac airfield to help strengthen bee populations in the Puget Sound region.
- Developed habitat projects on airport property, such as creating wild flower meadows to support pollinators, and constructing rubble piles for use by reptile and amphibian species.
- To make the airport less attractive for those wildlife species that present hazards to aircraft, Sea-Tac became the world’s first airport to use avian radar to detect potentially hazardous bird activity. In addition, Sea-Tac humanely captures and relocates many species of raptors, including bald eagles, to the Skagit Valley; more than 800 birds have been successfully relocated via this program.