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Efficiency, Sustainability, and Equity Priorities Succeed in Olympia

April 24, 2023

The 2023 Washington state legislature adopted major Port of Seattle priorities for the economy, sustainability and equity. Legislative advocacy complements the Port’s work to promote economic opportunities and quality of life in the region by advancing trade, travel, commerce and job creation in an equitable, accountable and environmentally responsible manner. Legislation provides funding for large-scale efficiency and sustainability projects, creates valuable incentives and policy direction, and gives the Port authority to do innovative work.

“Washington benefits from strong values alignment across our local governments,” said Port of Seattle Commission President Sam Cho. “This was a particularly good year for expanding economic opportunity, improving efficiency, and investing in communities.  It is clear that lawmakers from across the state value the role that Seattle and all ports can play in building a better future.”

“It was a strong session for the Port of Seattle, with investments for greening the maritime and aviation industries we oversee and operate, and for advancing justice for our communities,” said Commission Vice President Toshiko Hasegawa. “The state is a strong partner in promoting an equitable, sustainable, thriving Port economy.”

“The legislature took meaningful steps this session to make Washington State a leader in the just transition to a clean energy economy,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Ryan Calkins. “Legislators recognized the need for innovative approaches to siting and permitting, funding for new renewables infrastructure, and support for workers preparing for the new green careers. We applaud efforts to put people first through workforce investments, expanding access to childcare facilities, and eradicating barriers to much needed middle housing in our most densely populated cities.”

“With the passage of SB 5447 the State Legislature has taken a significant step towards bringing SAF to SEA from local sources," said Port of Seattle Commissioner Fred Felleman. “This has been a long-term goal of the Port of Seattle in concert with a broad coalition of industry leaders, government agencies, and non-profit organizations because it will significantly reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution from aviation. We look forward to the aviation industry seizing the opportunities created by the state, as well as other federal incentives, to make this a reality.”

“I was honored to have testified on changing the 3:1 match requirement legislation for two consecutive years, and I express my gratitude to the Legislature for recognizing the efforts of these community members and acknowledging their commitment to enhancing their communities,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Hamdi Mohamed. “By decreasing the grant match from 1:3 to 1:2, community organizations will be able to achieve greater success in fulfilling their missions. This legislation is particularly beneficial for recipients of the Port’s South King County Community Impact Fund, which will award $10 million to address noise mitigation, environmental health, sustainability, and economic development in ethnically and culturally diverse communities near the airport." 

Efficiency highlights

  • Puget Sound Gateway SR 509 Extension. The Port of Seattle and the Northwest Seaport Alliance worked with regional allies to secure continued funding for the Gateway Project (Highways 167 and 509). These projects complete two major unfinished highways in the Puget Sound region to create new connections to Interstate 5, the Ports of Tacoma and Seattle, and SEA Airport, and reduce congestion and emissions from truck traffic.  
  • Middle Housing. The Port of Seattle has expressed support for housing density policy when it alleviates pressure to build housing on industrial lands. The new law to increase housing density applies to the sixteen cities in the state with populations of 75,000 or higher— including Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane, Bellevue, and Everett.

Sustainability highlights

  • Sustainable Aviation Fuel. The Port of Seattle is part of a coalition of aviation and clean fuel production entities who worked with Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig to draft legislation that will incentivize in-state production and use of Sustainable Aviation fuels (SAF). The legislation includes requirements that the Department of Ecology elevate SAF to a Tier 1 fuel pathway. 
  • Clean Energy Siting. With aspirations to be the cleanest, most energy- efficient port in North America, the Port of Seattle supported HB 1216 to create an Interagency Clean Energy Siting Coordinating Council; establish a definition for clean energy projects “of statewide significance”; require SEPA review to be completed within two years; and initiate a programmatic environmental review for certain types of energy development.
  • Quiet Sound funding. In the 2021 session, the Port helped lead an effort to secure funding to establish the Quiet Sound program, as part of Governor Inslee’s 2019 Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force recommendations.  After a year of successful program implementation and early successes, the Port and other partners successfully advocated for $700,000 from the State Legislature to ensure continued program success and future growth and development. 
  • Clean energy sector workforce training. The Port maintains supports workforce training for clean energy workers. The State Department of Commerce pursued funding to support workforce development and pre-apprenticeships in the clean energy sector. The new Washington Climate Corps network will direct the state’s workforce training and education coordinating board to evaluate clean energy workforce needs and make recommendations to the Governor and Legislature. The Climate Corps received $7,545,000 in the state budget. 

Additional budget investments include grants for decarbonization in heavy industries like aviation, maritime, and transportation.  

Equity highlights

  • 2 to 1 match. For the last three years the Port has advocated to reduce barriers for community organizations applying to receive grants through the Port’s South King County Community Impact Fund. The legislature adopted our recommended policy to require service organizations, non-profits, and others working on community improvement projects to make a 2 to 1 match on grant funds, versus the currently required 3 to 1.  
  • Anti-human trafficking centers. Because transportation hubs like airports are often used to transport victims, the Port of Seattle has been a regional leader in anti-human trafficking awareness efforts since 2018. The Port supports SB 5114 and HB 1089 to create a network of hearing, support, and transition services for adults 18 and older with lived experience of sex trafficking and create center on both sides of the state. The resource centers received $5.7 million in the state budget. 
  • Expanding childcare facilities. The Port supports quality jobs for employees and the efforts to increase childcare facilities across the state and adjacent to Port facilities. Finding convenient, affordable childcare provides the basis for many jobseekers to enter the workforce and is a component of quality jobs.  The Port supported HB1199 to reduce some restrictions on daycares in common interest communities. 


Peter McGraw | Port of Seattle Media Officer
(206) 787-3446 |

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