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Port of Seattle Honors 50 Years of Earth Day with Major Action on Climate and Habitat

April 22, 2020

SEATTLE — In honor of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the Port of Seattle is taking major actions to achieve its Century Agenda goal to be the greenest and most energy-efficient port in North America. 

The Port announced in April that it will achieve its Century Agenda goal to reduce its carbon emissions by 50 percent in 2021, the result of a new renewable natural gas contract to replace fossil fuels used to heat the airport and power the airport bus fleet.  

On April 28, the Port Commission will consider a request to authorize construction funding to build a new 13.5 acre park and public access site on the Duwamish River, which advances the Port’s Century Agenda goal to restore Duwamish River habitat. The Terminal 117 Habitat Restoration and Duwamish Shoreline Access Project supports urgent salmon recovery needs while addressing long-standing community needs for increased greenspace, described in Resolution 3767, the Port’s Duwamish Valley Community Benefits Commitment.

“The same values that inspired Earth Day activists 50 years ago still inspire Commissioners, our staff, and our partners to reduce our environmental impact,” said Port of Seattle Commission Vice President Fred Felleman. “We are proud of the progress we have made at the Port, the areas where we are leading industries and local governments, and are determined to achieve our goals for a low carbon, clean future.”


The Port continues to focus on sustainability while responding to the global COVID-19 pandemic.  On April 1, Port of Seattle Commissioners identified environmental sustainability as one of the priorities that should guide future Port investments to assist in the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The global health crisis we’re now in is a harsh reminder of our human vulnerability to the forces of nature,” Said Port of Seattle Commission President Peter Steinbrueck, “Despite today’s challenges, the last 50 years demonstrates that with determined environmental activism we can conquer adversity and do what we must to protect the planet for future generations.”

A Legacy of Leadership

The Port can proudly claim many “firsts” in environmental leadership: the first airport to hire a full time wildlife biologist, the first airport with a recycling program, the first seaport with a voluntary clean water agreement with cruise lines and regulators, the first seaport with two shore-power enabled cruise ship berths, the first and only port to operate its own stormwater utility, together with members of the Northwest Port Clean Air Strategy, the first to conduct an inventory of air emissions and develop a strategy to reduce emissions in the airshed, and the first airport in the nation to host a summit on the supply and production of local, sustainable aviation fuels. This year the airport will become the first airport in the country to utilize RNG for heating. 

Explore the Port’s history of sustainability efforts in a detailed history of environmental milestones, or see selected projects highlighted in a graphical timeline.

Vision for the Future

The five Century Agenda environmental objectives guide how the Port stewards its real estate, capital assets and financial capabilities.   

  1. Meet all increased energy needs through conservation and renewable sources.
  2. Meet or exceed agency requirements for stormwater leaving Port-owned or operated facilities.
  3. Reduce air pollutants and carbon emissions, specifically to be carbon neutral or carbon negative by 2050.
  4. Anchor the Puget Sound urban industrial land use to prevent sprawl in less developed areas.
  5. Restore, create, and enhance 40 additional acres of habitat in the Green/Duwamish watershed and Elliott Bay.

The Port is working on two major strategies to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality for the future. The Seattle Waterfront Clean Energy Strategic Plan, a partnership with Seattle City Light to develop a strategy to replace fossil fuels used to power Seattle’s waterfront with clean electricity. The Port has also committed to fueling all departing flights at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport with a blend of sustainable aviation fuel by 2028, and passing a clean fuel standard in Washington state its top state policy priority.   

“The Port of Seattle remains committed to advancing innovation and incentives that create the low carbon jobs of the future,” said Port of Seattle Commission Vice President Fred Felleman. “However, we can’t do it alone. We’re looking to our partners in the legislature as well in the labor and business community to support legislation creating a clean fuel standard that will aid in our economic recovery and future for generations to come.”


Incredible Parks Want Incredible Names

The Duwamish River is one of the most industrialized rivers, but it is the site of transformative community activism and public sector leadership. To recognize the stewardship of the community in restoring the Duwamish River, the Port will rename six Port owned parks and shoreline access sites along the Duwamish River to new names that reflect the cultural and environmental history of the area.

The Port will partner with Seattle Parks Foundation, a well-recognized public parks and greenspace non-profit, to design and implement the re-naming campaign with transparency and community involvement. 

“I believe that place names have power,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Ryan Calkins. “So, in honor of Earth Day this year, we will be working with the communities of the Duwamish River and the Seattle Parks Foundation to rename Port parks to names that evoke the history and legacy of the people who lived along the river and those who live there today.”

The six parks, among the last remaining public access sites along the Duwamish River, are currently named after geographic markers or previous industrial purposes, including: Turning Basin #3, 8th Ave South Park, Terminal 117, Terminal 107 Park, Terminal 108/Diagonal Street Public Access, and Terminal 105 Park

Details will follow that invite the community to submit nominations that reflect the cultural or ecological significance of each Port-owned site. In September, the public will vote on the top finalists, and the new names will be announced at dedication ceremony as part of October’s Duwamish Alive Earth Day Celebration. 

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Peter McGraw | Maritime Media Officer
(206) 787-3446 |

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