OLYMPIA — Legislators, local elected officials, and community members gathered at a press conference today to demand economic and social justice for people living near Sea-Tac Airport.

Speakers supported legislation (SB 5955/HB 2103) to direct a small portion of Port of Seattle revenue as well as funding from the state’s Climate Commitment Act to address the significant noise and air pollution that burden communities around the airport.

Elected officials in attendance were Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines), Rep. Tina Orwall (D-Des Moines), SeaTac Mayor Mohamed Egal, Des Moines City Councilmember JC Harris, and Des Moines City Councilmember Gene Achziger.

Media from the press conference

  • Video is available to stream or download on TVW here.
  • Photos from the press conference and of one constituent’s failed port package are available to download online here.

Quotes from the press conference

Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines): “The residents of our airport communities have a higher rate of death from heart disease, from respiratory disease, a higher rate of asthma, and in fact of a lower life expectancy. The closer you live to the airport, the more you are burdened with a lower life expectancy — up to five years lower than the rest of the people in King County if you live within one mile of the airport.”

Rep. Tina Orwall (D-Des Moines): “The bills in front of you will do three things. They will expand HEPA purifiers: we’d like to see those in all schools, daycares, and senior centers. We also would like to see more indoor spaces for recreation. The second thing: it will protect our green spaces. Trees and parks are really important to our area, and we need to protect those, especially old-growth trees. The third is to help our residents in the community, starting with people with failed port packages.”

Maria Batayola, community activist: “We don’t have the time to wait, because our lives —and our health—are impacted.”

Mayor Mohamed Egal, SeaTac: “While the airport is the largest employer in our community, it also has massive negative impacts on our city and surrounding communities.”

Steve Edmiston, Des Moines resident: “Port of Seattle’s revenues in 2024 are budgeted to be a billion dollars. These bills in year one will provide $800,000 … that’s 1/1,000th of the port’s revenue.”

Information about the legislation

SB 5955 (HB 2103), sponsored by Sen. Karen Keiser and Rep. Tina Orwall, would address health and environmental inequities by requiring port districts to use a portion of levy revenues to mitigate the effects of noise and air pollution on people who live near large airports.

Airports are an important part of Washington’s economy but also have adverse environmental and health effects on those who live nearby. In King County, the majority of Black, Hispanic, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander residents live within 10 miles of Sea-Tac Airport. A 2020 study by Public Health — Seattle & King County found this population faces a greater risk of premature birth, asthma, stroke, diabetes, heart disease, chronic pulmonary disease, lower life expectancy and higher rates of death.

Pollution from ultrafine particles, which are small enough to pass the blood-brain barrier, is higher near the airport, a 2019 study by the University of Washington Department of Environmental & Occupational Health found.

The legislation would mitigate noise and air pollution for residents by providing soundproofing for residences, air purifiers for schools, and increased green space, among other interventions.

Bill hearings

Hearings for the bills have been scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 16:

  • 8 a.m. in Senate Local Government, Land Use & Tribal Affairs Committee, SB 5955 will be heard in Senate Hearing Room 3 and on TVW
  • 10:30 a.m. in House Local Government Committee, HB 2103 will be heard in House Hearing Room E and on TVW

Press conference on reducing noise and air pollution near Sea-Tac Airport, Jan. 15, 2024.

Press conference on reducing noise and air pollution near Sea-Tac Airport, Jan. 15, 2024.