Group Challenges Environmental Impact Report
on New Runway at Seattle Airport

AUGUST 13, 1996

The Airport Communities Coalition today took the second step in a series of legal actions against the Port of Seattle in their battle to block a proposed third runway at Seattle Tacoma International Airport. Last Friday the ACC filed the first lawsuit in King County Superior Court.

"We weren't kidding when we warned the Port that we would be aggressive," said Peter Kirsch, an attorney with Cutler & Stanfield, a Washington D.C. law firm that represents ACC. "This administrative appeal, together with last week's 17- count complaint, solidifies our case that the port and the regional council have blatantly thumbed its noses at numerous state laws -- not to mention the fact that it has discredited experts, citizens and everyone who may think the runway is a bad idea."

The administrative appeal claim challenges the legal adequacy of the port's February 1996 environmental impact statement. The basis of the challenge ranges from a failure to adequately examine and evaluate the adverse construction impacts to the community, to a failure to consider significant new information indicating much more severe air pollution impacts.

Kirsch said the port's ElS fails to accurately analyze the tremendous impacts that would result from extracting, transporting, dumping and compacting between 20-30 million cubic yards of dirt needed to construct the runway. The ElS also fails to identify and evaluate mitigation measures resulting from the construction and operation the runway, impacts on wetlands, and feasible alternatives to building an 8,500 ft. runway, Kirsch added.

"The cities surrounding the airport refuse to be intimidated by the giant arrogance of the port," said Phil Watkins, who represents Federal Way on the ACC executive board. "Looking at the extent and volume of state laws the port has violated is a disgrace to the people of Puget Sound."

The administrative appeals process is contrnlled by the port with the claim being brought before the Office of the Hearing Examiner, who is appointed by the port. A prehearing conference is then set for 21 days after the appeal is filed.

Last week the ACC filed a 16-count complaint in King County Superior Court on behalf of the cities of Des Moines, Burien, Federal Way, Normandy Park and Tukwila, as well as the Highline School District and the ACC itself. Cited as defendants were the Puget Sound Regional Council, its executive board, the port and its commissioners.

ACC's claims in last week's lawsuit fall into three general categories. First, the lawsuit contends that the PSRC and the port have failed to follow the process of reaching decisions affecting transportation and the environment that are set out in the state's Growth Management Act (GMA) and the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), as well as in other state laws affecting governmental decision-making.

The second area that the lawsuit is based upon involves two required environmental studies. Both studies ignored how devastating a third runway would be on the quality of life in the region, especially on those residents who live in south King County.

Finally, the lawsuit contends that PSRC violated its own rules and state law governing its actions when it arbitrarily ignored the findings of its own consultants and committee on two critical issues: siting a supplemental airport and noise reduction surrounding Sea-Tac Airport.

Source: Airport Communities Coalition of Seattle