Port Race Survey
Port Race Survey
Download the full PDF here or use the accordion below to see the candidates’ answers, by clicking on a question to expand its answers.
1. The Port of Seattle Century Agenda is the port’s major strategic plan. It includes the broad objective, “Be the greenest, and most energy efficient port in North America”, including, “Scope 1 emissions, which are direct greenhouse gas emissions from Port owned or controlled sources, shall be 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2030; and carbon neutral or carbon negative by 2050.” What actions must the Port take to ensure that it will meet these goals, and how do you see your role in these actions?
Ryan Calkins:The Port needs to prioritize the most effective means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by making use of proven technologies such as solar energy production to replace the high emission forms of energy production. As airplanes represent a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, we must continue to reduce taxiing times, support airlines that upgrade their fleets, and reduce the number of single occupancy vehicle trips to and from Port facilities. The Port must also broaden efforts to fully electrify Port vehicles and those vehicles servicing the Port, such as taxis and other ride hailing services.
John Creighton: Both the Port and the Seaport Alliance should have a global effort to reduce all emissions in their areas of operation – whether agency-created or tenant/third party created – by establishing a strategic plan for emissions reductions which: (1) sets hard targets in each source category: ocean-going vessels, harborcraft, trucks, trains, planes, etc. as reductions in some categories will be able to be achieved more quickly than in others, and (2) establishes multi-year budgets laying out funding source(s) and/or incentive programs for each emissions reduction initiative (port revenue, tax levy funds, tenant or stakeholder funds, state or federal grant money, etc.)
○ Control pollution by reducing fossil fuel and transiting to a completely zero emission vehicles powered by renewable energy (more attention to be paid to where schools and childcare facilities are located)
○ Avoiding use of toxic chemicals and making informed choices by engaging the stakeholders, nonprofit organization as well as the communities that are impacted by the port pollution.
○ Creating green jobs – green jobs benefits both the economy and environment
○ Driving less: Vehicles are a major source of toxic chemicals from tailpipe emissions, brake pad and tire dust, and fluid leaks and drips.
Stephanie Bowman: Strategically, the Port needs to focus on reducing emissions from the largest sources: airplanes (through bringing aviation bio-fuels to market at SeaTac); marine cargo and cruise ships (providing plug-in “shorepower” at berth), and through port operations (drayage trucks, cargo handling equipment, etc.). The Commission’s role is to develop the policy guidance to address these issues, and approve the allocation of resources (through the budget) to allow the staff and stakeholders to take action.
Preeti Shridhar: The Port must expand efforts to electrify the airport, using renewable energy, and reduce its dependence on natural gas. Some progress has been made. For example, a new shuttle bus facility and the vehicles it supports will be powered by wind power. But more is needed to reach those goals within the Port’s own operations. For example, unlike the Port, most government agencies do not provide free parking to their employees, which encourages the use of mass transit. And more could be done to find a dependable source of renewable natural gas. I would support both of those efforts.
Peter Steinbrueck: There are many actions the Port must take to meet these goals, beginning with Sea-Tac Airport, which has in its GHG inventory nearly the equivalent of the City of Seattle’s output. 90 % of which is due to aircraft operations. In the short term, the Port can convert all ground equipment to electric power, commercial airlines can buy and offer CO2 offsets. In addition, car travel to and from the airport needs to be reduced. The Sea-tac light rail station connection was poorly designed, and begs for improvements if people are to choose it over cars. the Port should make work with all transit agencies to increase mode share of travel to and from the airport to transit and other alternatives to driving.
2. The Century Agenda also states, “Scope 3 emissions, which are emissions the Port has influence over, not direct control, shall be 50 percent below 2007 levels by 2030 and 80 percent below 2007 levels by 2050.” Scope 3 emissions include both upstream and downstream transportation, for instance emissions from ships and railroad cars. What actions must the Port take to ensure that it will meet these goals, and how do you see your role in these actions?
Ryan Calkins: The largest portion of greenhouse gas emissions related to the Port of Seattle are from ocean going vessels. The Port needs to work with shippers to upgrade the pollution control systems on these vessels and convert them to cleaner-burning engines and fuels. In addition, the Port needs to expand its support for the SCRAPS program which helps drayage truck drivers to upgrade their diesel trucks with newer, cleaner engines.
John Creighton: I don’t see the different emissions categories as separate efforts, they should be approached comprehensively. See my above answer.
Ahmed Abdi: The port should work with the local air authorities to create and enforce emission standards. This approach is expected to build local consensus because the process allows multiple stakeholders work together to address local problems. It is also important to combat maritime-related air pollution by providing shore-side electrical power at the ship docks and preventing old cargo handling ships from entering the Port. Finally, the ScRaps program aims to upgrade all drayage trucks to operate with 2007 model or newer engines by January 2018, reducing diesel particulates by 90%. The port should use its environmental funds to sustain this program.
Stephanie Bowman: Using both a “stick” and “carrot” approach, the Port can simultaneously provide incentives to industry for meeting standards (such as allowing clean drayage trucks t preferential access to terminals), as well as penalizing those who haven’t met the standards, either through financial sanctions or reducing access to port facilities. My approach is to begin by trying to work with all stakeholders to achieve our environmental goals, in order to understand what the real barriers are to compliance. For instance, most drayage truck drivers are low income and can’t afford newer engines, so simply denying them access to terminals hurts everyone.
Preeti Shridhar: The Port must make every effort to make Sea-Tac Airport the first in the nation to power every flight with biofuel. It will take action from both the private and public sectors and all levels of government. The installation of electric ground support equipment at Sea-Tac and the installation of shore power at marine terminals are two examples of progress in reducing these emissions. In addition, the on-dock rail at the renovated Terminal 5 will eliminate truck traffic and the related emissions. I support these efforts and more, including the continuation of the Clean Trucks Program.
Peter Steinbrueck: Yes, besides Sea-tac airport, there are opportunities to electrify all the cargo shipping and dock facilities, and improve energy efficiency of short hauler truckers engines. Per mile ton, ships are by far the most fuel efficient mode (even over rail), but still, global shipping is a significant contributor to GHG emissions. It will take a steady commitment coupled with strong, experienced leadership at Port, in partnership with industry, to make significant strides in reducing GHG emissions in all its transportation operations and facilities. My role, as a life-long environmental activist, former elected official and policy maker, will be to keep the commitment going strong, strive for a fossil free energy future, and monitor and report results annually.
3. The Port of Seattle seaport, the Port of Tacoma and Port Metro Vancouver, Canada, initiated the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy, which only calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 15% by 2020, and no longer term goal. The Strategy is scheduled for an update. What short and long term goals would you like to see in that update, and how would you like to see ports work together to meet these goals?
Ryan Calkins: The Ports of Seattle and Tacoma have the opportunity to follow the lead of California ports by instituting stringent air quality standards. The simplest solution is to adopt California’s standards.
John Creighton: The Salish Sea and Puget Sound comprise a common airshead. I have therefore long been a proponent of the three ports working together on air emissions reduction strategies. Both the Port and the Seaport Alliance raised the bar on our emissions reduction goals this year. I would like to see Port Metro Vancouver as well as the Port of Prince Rupert join us in this more aggressive goal. Now that the Puget Sound ports have set higher goals, they need to flesh them out by category and set hard dates per each category by which to become carbon neutral.
Ahmed Abdi: I will make sure that Climate Action Policies is updated and the port meet these goals. The port’s role here is to take a leadership role and advocate for strategies planning of establishing common climate action policies I will work with all parties and help facilitate by coming up with achievable goals.
Stephanie Bowman: Setting a long term goal, with more ambitious outcomes, is the most important first step in the update. Yet setting goals is not enough. We need to continually address the root sources of emissions and focus on reducing those. I have found there is rarely a silver bullet, such as with the clean truck goals mentioned above. But it is imperative that we take bold action NOW, such as with the strategic investments need to bring aviation biofuels into SeaTac. Our long term goals need to become short term goals.
Preeti Shridhar: I would like to see incremental goals beyond 2020 and would work to make that happen. The short-term goal would be to seek agreement from all of the Northwest ports through their associations. The long-term goal would be to create a program that provides incentives, offers best practices, and supports each port in achieving these goals. The Port of Seattle, with its in-house expertise, is well positioned to lead this effort. I would support an effort that includes regularly reported metrics that show progress toward the goals. I would pursue a more assertive role for the Port in this area.
Peter Steinbrueck: The Port of Seattle can be a real leader amongst its peer ports on the West Coast in pushing for more aggressive goals for reducing GHG emissions, but there needs to be genuine commitment, capable leadership, real determination, and a will to work together. Setting goals are one thing, but effective strategies will be necessary, working with industry partners to achieve a sea change in reducing GHG emissions.
4. If presented with a decision to approve use of the Port of Seattle as a base for Arctic drilling operations, as was the case with the Shell Arctic drilling fleet in 2015, what factors would you take into account? Can you say now what your position would be on such a decision?
Ryan Calkins: If confronted with that decision, I would vote no. We can not afford to extract fossil fuels from the arctic, and participating, even in a secondary manner, in that industry is being complicit in furthering global warming.
John Creighton: I would not support berthing an oil drilling fleet at Port of Seattle terminals. Under my leadership, the Commission established our Energy and Sustainability Committee, which over the last two years has worked with industry and environmental stakeholders to develop guidelines for approving future leases with tenants. In addition, the Port now looks at lifecycle GHG impacts when doing EIS’s on new projects.
Ahmed Abdi: In general, the Port needs to be sure that when considering leases, that the needs and values of the community are represented. The Port Commission should be the watch dog on all leases and ensure they don’t run counter to King County’s fight against global climate change. Arctic drilling is inherently dangerous to the ecosystem and therefore I will not support any such projects. Instead, the Port of Seattle should invest in the economy of the future– thus I will not support or allow drilling fleets in our beautiful Puget Sound.
Stephanie Bowman: The Port Commission is the steward of the public’s assets. Factors that must be taken into account in any decision of the Port Commission on behalf of the residents of King County, who are the true “shareholders” of the Port, include: is the use of a facility a legally permitted use? Does it comply with federal, state and local regulations and environmental standards? What does do all stakeholders think of this use? What is gained (social license, reputation, revenue, etc.) and what is lost? What are the long and short term impacts of this decision on the community at large?
Preeti Shridhar: My position on this is against. Our community clearly demonstrated that it does not support this kind of maritime activity. As elected officials, Port commissioners must listen to the public and weigh their concerns with those of business and commerce. At the same time the Port in order to keep jobs, in the event there is a similar conflict in the future the Port should aggressively pursue other businesses that provide the needed maritime jobs but do not create such conflict.
Peter Steinbrueck: The Polar Artic drill rig can only be seen as a weapon of mass environmental destruction. That said, rather than be reactive, the Port needs to adopt clear, responsible, achievable, and consistent environmental policy as it relates to our community values, industry, its lines of business, and the types of transient moorages and shipped products, through an open and transparent deliberative process that allows for all interests, including industry, to be heard.
5. The Port has long been committed to living wage jobs. How do you see job changes as the Port moves to zero emissions? What will the Port do to ensure a just transition for workers, such as diesel truckers and equipment operators, whose jobs are affected by these changes? What will the Port do to ensure that the economic opportunities provided by the shift to zero emissions lead to a more diverse workforce as well as opportunities for minority-owned businesses?
Ryan Calkins: As Port Commissioner, I will work to create family-wage jobs that also prioritize the environment. We are facing a shortage of workers in certain areas of skilled labor, and also must address the employment churn resulting from information technology and automation. The Port should lead a consortium of governments, businesses, and educational institutions to expand Career and Technical Education. The Port’s mission to drive regional economic growth needs to be targeted at benefiting economically marginalized communities in our region. Expanding apprenticeship programs for the trades related to the Port, and drawing applicants from those communities, would address those dual responsibilities.
John Creighton: Everyone in King County pays taxes into the Port and all communities should benefit from Port-created prosperity. I have worked to expand opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses at the Port and increase access to maritime industrial jobs for youth from historically underserved communities. Currently I am leading an effort at the Port to implement “Priority Hire” on Port construction projects, where hiring preference is given to workers who live in disadvantaged zip codes. The Port needs to make sure as jobs continue to transition as our economy transforms that the appropriate re-training is made available to all port workers.
- Witnessing the struggle of low wage workers at the Airport and Port, including lack of benefits and worker protections, was what prompted me to run for Port Commissioner. The working families interest are not well represented by many of the current port commissioners, and I want to change that.
- I worked hard to help pass the SeaTac Good Jobs Proposition #1, and as Commissioner I will ensure the enforcement of the new worker protections and the port must hold accountable those who violates it. It’s critical that each new program includes fair wages and safe working conditions; all too often, the costs of clean technology fall on low-wage workers.
Stephanie Bowman: These are all critical issues, but they cannot be solved by the Port alone, nor should they. Working in partnership with other agencies, industry and labor, the Port can, for instance, be part of the solution of re-training workers in industries of the zero emission economy. Diversifying the workforce and expanding opportunities for minority-owned businesses is imperative right now, not simply in the zero emission economy. I have the led the port’s efforts in these areas over the last four years, and will continue to do so.
Preeti Shridhar: We need to create career pathways for those adapting to a clean-energy economy, including truck drivers, equipment operators, and people working in aviation. Independent truck drivers must be offered incentives to make their vehicles more fuel-efficient. I support efforts to increase opportunities for minority-owned businesses by supporting partnerships with their associations and by bringing minority-business owners together to hear how the Port can help them. I strongly encourage minority and small business owners to adopt fair-trade agreements that lift the standard of living for workers. I also support equitable treatment between taxi drivers and Uber drivers, related to generating emissions.
Peter Steinbrueck: As Einstein said, “We can’t solve our problems with the same kind of thinking that created them.” Change is never easy, and industry that profits from oil will resist. Yet the green economy is what we need to move to, as rapidly as possible (350 carbon challenge!). To achieve the goal zero emissions, it will require a strong commitment to economic justice and equity, global changes in industry, and a reliable supply of renewables. That is where we must go, and where there is the greatest opportunity!
6. The Port of Seattle has participated in studies of aviation biofuel delivery to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. How would you assure that biofuels are genuinely sustainable by broad environmental and social criteria, including significant greenhouse gas reductions, ecosystem preservation, food security and labor rights?
Ryan Calkins: I am skeptical that aviation biofuels are the best use of limited resources to reduce greenhouse gases or that the Port of Seattle has the capacity to change the currently unfavorable economics. Furthermore, a complete life-cycle analysis may determine that the reduction in emissions may not materialize, because of the concerns raised in your question. I would prioritize the adoption of proven green technologies as a means of improving the Port of Seattle’s environmental footprint until such time as the economics of biofuels makes them a more viable option.
John Creighton: This is an important question and one that I have been reinforcing with airport environmental staff. While I have been a champion of Sea-Tac Airport becoming the first airport in North America to make aviation biofuels available to all airlines at the airport, the supply chain must be structured in a way that reduces the carbon footprint overall and has no other unintended adverse consequences. Aviation biofuels would not only, if sourced properly, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they would reduce particulates by 50-70% according to a NASA-funded study. This is important to the health of communities around the airport.
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Stephanie Bowman: The Port has not simply :participated in studies” but has LED the effort to research what it will take to bring biofuels to Sea-Tac, and I’ve been the lead advocate for this effort. But biofuels must be sustainably acquired (for instance, trucking biofuels from the midwest completely defeats the purpose). Obtaining biofuels locally (In Washington State), through sustainable farming, is imperative. Ensuring biofuels crops are not replacing essential food stocks is equally important. Production (blending) and transport needs to be considered, for community safety and worker protection and rights. It is an audacious undertaking, but it must be done.
Preeti Shridhar: Sustainable aviation biofuel reduces emissions by 50 to 80 percent because biofuel feedstock absorbs carbon dioxide as it grows. Current research shows that biofuel made from forest residuals from the Pacific Northwest may be the most viable feedstock, not corn as was used in the past. I would support continued partnerships to make sure that the supply is renewable and has the least impact on the environment. I support efforts in the clean-energy industry to provide for labor rights and enable all people to and work in these new occupations that protect their health and the health of our community.
Peter Steinbrueck: Aviation biofuels are the future, and only identifiable choice at present (other than electric) for reducing carbon emissions in air travel. The Port’s draft “Sustainable Airport Master Plan,” a work in progress, is clearly not sustainable. I strongly support the continued efforts by the Port to work with airlines, Boeing, academia, and industry to advance aviation biofuels. It will require an industry shift including, a reliable supply source, distribution, storage, and fueling facilities at the airport. I will do all I can as Port Commissioner to further these goals, and at the same time work to ensure social, environmental and economic justice.