Local leaders don’t want an airport. But how much power do they have to stop it?
“There’s no way that I will agree to proceed without the agreement of local governments,” said House Republican Leader Rep. J.T. Wilcox of Yelm.”
From The Olympian:
In October, government leaders in Pierce and Thurston counties made it clear they opposed siting a major airport within their jurisdictions. Officials requested that a state commission studying the viability of three rural areas — one near Graham, one near Roy and one in central Thurston County — cease doing so.
Those sites are the greenfield finalists under deliberation by the state Legislature-created Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission, which is tasked with recommending a site to the state in June for a new regional commercial airport.
“If it is up to local government, then I think they should start looking elsewhere,” Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier recently told The News Tribune.
Many local opponents argue a potential airport poses an existential threat to communities and the natural environment. In response, the CACC has floated the possibility of implementing futuristic mitigation efforts for the environment. But this has not allayed concerns.
“The impact is not just environmental elements that will be perhaps mitigated,” Thurston County Manager Ramiro Chavez told The Olympian. “The human impact is much more concerning to Thurston County.”
“An airport can’t proceed without an agreement of the Legislature, and there’s no way that I will agree to proceed without the agreement of local governments,” said House Republican Leader Rep. J.T. Wilcox of Yelm, which is situated close to all three sites.
Wilcox, a member of both counties’ legislative delegations, said he will be backing a bill that Rep. Tom Dent, R-Moses Lake, plans to introduce this month that would restart the process to identify a preferred airport location due to concerns that the COVID-19 pandemic hampered necessary research and public outreach.
+ The JOLT News: More barriers to building a major new airport in central Thurston County proposed by Tahoma Audubon Society – Legislature’s commission put Thurston site last among three sites named, says new commission chair