Early in its process, the CACC adopted four fundamental planning principles to serve as the foundation of any recommendations it makes: Recommendations provide a public benefit, are economically feasible, are environmentally responsible, and consider social equity.
1. Public benefit
The CACC defined public benefit as benefiting the greater good, or the broader public, over an individual entity or group.
At this stage in the process, one of the primary ways the CACC is addressing this guiding principle is in studying the accessibility of each potential airport site. We are looking at the number of residents within a 90-minute passenger drive time and 60-minute freight drive time as well as transit and roadway connections to ensure the site we recommend is accessible to the greatest number of people possible.
2. Economic feasibility
The CACC defined economic feasibility as the degree to which the economic advantages of something to be made, done, or achieved are greater than the economic costs: Can we fund it?
We are addressing economic feasibility by considering the overall estimated cost of modifying an existing airport or developing a new one versus the economic opportunities associated with increasing aviation capacity.
The CACC is studying the economic feasibility in terms of site development, for example, studying how many parcels would need to be purchased, additional infrastructure such as roads and utilities to support the site or the extent that the landscape would need to be modified to develop or expand an existing airport.
There is also economic opportunity associated with development or expansion of an airport. The CACC conducted a study of how other airports in the country have prioritized contributions from Historically Underutilized Businesses as a first step in making recommendations for how a large airport infrastructure project in the Puget Sound region could benefit minority-owned businesses. Additionally, the May 2021 Puget Sound Regional Council Regional Aviation Baseline Study (PDF 4.6MB) forecasted up to $31 billion in economic benefit and as many as 209,000 additional jobs resulting from meeting the capacity needs.
3. Environmental responsibility
The CACC defined environmental responsibility as the responsible interaction with the environment to avoid depletion or degradation of natural resources and allow for long-term environmental quality. The practice of environmental sustainability helps to ensure that the needs of today’s population are met without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to meet their needs and to reduce environmental and health disparities in Washington state to improve the health of all Washington state residents.
Environmental responsibility has been central to the CACC’s research and education of its members. The Commission takes seriously the potential impacts to the environment from greenhouse gases, emissions, and noise. Early in the CACC’s work, the Commission made two recommendations regarding environment:
- advance the development and use of sustainable aviation fuel as a bridging strategy while more advanced aircraft capable of significant emissions and noise reductions are developed
- support WSDOT’s role in advancing aviation’s technology including the work of the electric aircraft working group
There are parallel efforts taking place, not only within Washington state but across the country, to try to develop ways to address the environmental concerns. The development or construction of an airport or expansion will take 15 to 20 years to begin. WSDOT is pursuing available and emerging aviation technology for airports such as the production and use of sustainable aviation fuel, electrification of ground support equipment, clean power generation at airports, and the use of electric, hybrid-electric and hydrogen propelled aircraft as they become available. In the near-term, the aerospace industry is making continuous improvements to reduce noise and emissions.
4. Social equity
The CACC defined social equity as fair access to opportunity, livelihood, and the full participation in the political and cultural life of a community.
Part of the earliest screening for expanding existing airports and greenfield locations includes considering “incompatible land uses”, in other words, impacts to residents, schools, places of worship, and similar institutions. It also considers the number of people who have low incomes, people of color, and people who use languages other than English close to the location. Additionally, before work could begin on a new or expanded airport facility, the airport sponsor would need to undertake a significant study to ensure impacts on surrounding communities are mitigated.