If there is one matter that people around SeaTac Airport [KSEA] need to focus on right now, it is the urgent deadline, just over a week away, for filing an appeal at King County Superior Court. That appeal, if granted, would force review of POS’s recent SEPA ‘Determination of Non-Significance’, or ‘DNS’, for the so-called ‘Hardstand’ expansion project. What exactly is a DNS? In this case, the DNS is POS’s way of administratively declaring, “oh, we want to enable the airlines to park 6 more airplanes for handling their through-passengers, but this will not increase flights and will have no significant impacts.” Really!?! Hmmm … this determination seems to lack plausibility.
A Closer Look at the Environmental Review Process
The Port of Seattle (POS) has an environmental staff, and one of their duties is to maintain a webpage listing various projects for both NEPA (federal) and SEPA (state) environmental review. People need to understand how these processes flow, and how they are so strongly biased to enable airport over-expansion while creating an illusion that the general public was involved in the process. This Post takes a closer look at the state portion, SEPA.
So, how does the SEPA work in the State of Washington? Probably very much like what has evolved (or devolved??) for environmental review in most states. As has become a common strategy at major airports across the nation, a bunch of paperwork is created, and procedures are ‘checked off’. At the right point in time (usually, immediately after seeing that it looks like all boxes were checked), the airport authority can then simply do what they intended from the start: declare their ‘Determination of Non-Significance’, or ‘DNS’. So long as nobody finds time or money to file an appeal at the courts, it is ‘Game Over’. The airlines (served by the airport authorities) get more expansion, and more profit potential; the airport authority gets a fatter budget and more passenger fee revenues; the controllers see an increase in traffic and may finally nudge past a threshold to get a nice pay raise.
And what about the thousands more residents now awoken by night flights? Not a problem; they were determined by POS to be ‘Not Significant’. And if that seems inaccurate, well, just try to fix it!
In short, it’s a rigged system. No surprises there. So, what do we do about it? Demand the system be improved, and take action to fix what has been done wrong. We all need to get our community leaders to file appeals, before that looming deadline (July 28th).
Here’s a plausible sample letter or email, that defines the concerns we need to communicate to the City Manager and Council Members at Des Moines:
For reference, the table below lists archived copies of the key documents POS created; they hope to begin construction of the hardstand capacity expansion, later this year.
|6/6/2017||SEPA DNS (3pg) [link] .. one odd puzzle about this DNS: it appears to cover only the so-called ‘hardstand holdroom’ building, but not the actual hardstand|
|6/6/2017||Checklist for SEPA DNS (22pg) [link]|
|6/21/2017||Comment Period Extension (1pg) [link]|
|7/7/2017||Final SEPA DNS (6pg) [link] .. declares 7/28 deadline to appeal for review, at King County Superior Court|
|7/18/2017||ADDENDUM to Final SEPA DNS (2pg) [link]|