Our Southern Resident orcas are the canary in the coal mine for the Salish Sea — and perhaps for climate and ecological stability around the world. There are only 73 of them left in the wild (Lolita/Tokitae, confined at the Miami Seaquarium, makes 74); elected officials have made a great deal of noise about saving them (just like they’ve made a lot of noise about addressing climate change).

The Port of Seattle Commission is elected, too. So why are they seeking a new cruise ship terminal for the city? 

They know that vessel traffic noise pollution is crippling the ability of the critically endangered Southern Residents to hunt salmon, and the pollutants that have bioaccumulated up the food web are damaging their ability to survive and reproduce. They also know that cruise ships are the antithesis of a climate-friendly future; they are floating cities fueled by one of the dirtiest fossil fuels on earth — heavy fuel oil. Introducing more toxins and more mega-ship traffic into the Salish Sea will push orcas closer to the brink of extinction — it’s that simple.

This week and next, you can attend one of the Port’s public “scoping hearings” to insist that their environmental review of the new terminal consider our orcas, the climate, and every other critical issue related to these wildly destructive ships. Talking points are below. Comment by email here.

  • Wednesday. October 30, 2019, 5:30-7:30 PM, South Seattle Community College, Georgetown Campus, 6737 Corson Avenue South, Building C, 122, Seattle, WA 98108
  • Monday, November 4, 2019, 4:00-6:00 PM, Embassy Suites at Pioneer Square, King Street Ballroom, 255 South King Street, Seattle, WA 98104
  • Thursday, November 7, 2019, 11:30 AM-1:30 PM, The Foundry, 4130 1st Avenue S, Seattle, WA 98134

A scoping hearing helps determine what impacts of a project are considered in an environmental review; if we don’t succeed in getting  a given impact included in the review, for example, then we can’t later object that it wasn’t addressed.

The list below is what we’re asking the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to require. “Qualifiers” are the cruise ship companies seeking to berth at the new terminal. Some of this is pretty technical, and you definitely don’t need to include them all in your testimony if you’re at the hearing…but the more specific you can be, especially if you have expertise in one of these areas, the better our odds are of making sure the EIS is what we need it to be.

  1. We urge the Port to disclose how it intends to align any new cruise ship activity with the directive of the IPCC that we reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030, and to calculate all emissions that would be attributable to cruise ships using the new terminal, no matter where they were emitted.
  2. We urge the Port to disclose the “upfront emissions” from the use of concrete at the new terminal, and to avoid the use of Portland cement. Such upfront emissions may often be necessary for climate-friendly purposes (like urban housing), but polluting now in order to enable more polluting later is the height of folly.
  3. We urge the Port to assess:
    • Greenhouse gas, noise pollution, and equity impacts of additional flights to Sea-Tac resulting from people traveling to cruises.
    • Pollution and neighborhood impacts of vehicular traffic to the new terminal
    • What marine, air and land species would be affected in their migration and/or reproductive cycles by construction of the new terminal?
  4. Additionally, we urge the Port to require that all qualifiers
    • Disclose any and all violations of criminal federal, state, and local laws and regulations occurring within the last fifteen years, as well as any and all civil liabilities and lawsuits. This applies especially to Carnival Corporation, most recently indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice in the US v Princess case for violating environmental laws and being caught for violating its terms of probation for illegally dumping waste into the ocean, including in Glacier Bay National Park.
    • Submit a comprehensive Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) report detailing the volume and types of fuels used and emissions/pollution to be emitted by the type of cruise ships expected to use Terminal 46 for a period of thirty years.
    • Conduct an inventory of current and projected emissions based on the proposed changes at Terminal 5 and Terminal 46, using the EPA’s current Methodologies and Best Practices for estimating Greenhouse Gas emissions, including but not limited to CO2, NOX, SOX, PM2.5, PM10.
    • Utilize underwater detection technology so that they don’t rely on sightings before engaging in orca protection activities.
    • Operate below key whale-related decibel frequencies in whale migration or feeding habitats.
    • Conduct an assessment of added vessel traffic impacts on orcas.
    • Conduct a study of air dispersion modeling for the Terminal 46.
    • Disclose their estimates of the total amount of their discharges for the years 2009-2018, including sewage, greywater, oily bilge water, solid waste and hazardous waste.
    • Commit to 100% use of clean electric shore power.
    • Offer proposals consistent with the City of Seattle’s climate goals.
    • Commit, in writing, to honor the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of regional tribes and and engage in government-to-government consultation, including the Duwamish.
    • Commit, in writing, to progressive hiring/employment practices – i.e. goals for local hires, new apprenticeship opportunity/positions for groups under-represented in the trades, unionized contractors, etc.— to the degree that the law allows and where not already included in Port contracting regulations.
    • Commit, in writing, to housing/transportation subsidies for low-wage employees.
    • Offer proposals that can be assessed through the equity lens required for City of Seattle projects. (See: City of Seattle’s Race and Social Justice Initiative Racial Equity Toolkit.)
    • Commit to stopping the use of pollutant-intensive heavy fuel oil across their entire global fleets, and submit their plans for so doing.
    • Commit to switching their current fleets to proven hybrid technologies, and move by 2021 to cleaner marine gas oil with catalyzed diesel particulate filters.
    • Commit to state-of-the-art, low-carbon, zero emissions battery or hydrogen fuel cells propulsion systems in new ships.