May 12, 2015
Seattle Port Commissioners
Pier 69 2711 Alaskan Way
Seattle WA 98121
RE: Foss Maritime Terminal 5 Lease
Hand delivered c/o Commission Clerk
Dear Commissioners of the Port of Seattle:
I am writing on behalf of the Resource Development Council for Alaska (RDC), to respectfully request you uphold your decision to support the maritime industry, local trades, and the long standing mutually beneficial business ties between Alaska and the greater Puget Sound region by retaining Foss Maritime’s existing lease of Terminal 5.
RDC is an Alaskan, non-profit, membership-funded organization founded in 1975. The RDC membership is comprised of individuals and companies from Alaska’s oil and gas, mining, timber, tourism, and fisheries industries, as well as Alaska Native corporations, local communities, organized labor, and industry support firms. RDC’s purpose is to link these diverse interests together to encourage a strong, diversified private sector in Alaska and expand the state’s economic base through the responsible development of our natural resources.
The economic ties between Alaska and the State of Washington, City of Seattle and the Port of Seattle date back to the earliest days of settlement of Alaska. It is no mere coincidence that the Commission’s headquarters address is on Alaskan Way. The recent “Ties that Bind” report commissioned by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce earlier this year highlights the magnitude of the contribution of Alaska to the Seattle and Puget Sound economy.
Puget Sound literally runs on oil from the Alaska arctic. Alaska supplies nearly half of all crude oil refined in Puget Sound. An estimated 12,000 Puget Sound jobs and $780 million in labor earnings are connected with refining Alaska oil. One quarter of all Puget Sound maritime industrial support activity is connected with Alaska producing 5,300 jobs and a $390 million annual payroll.
RDC is concerned of the serious ramifications an unprecedented reversal of a valid port lease would have to both the Alaska and Washington economies. If populist politicians and extreme environmental activists can dictate who can use the essential port infrastructure under your charge, then no industrial and commercial activity in the Port is immune.
If offshore exploration is offensive to the environmental sensibilities of Seattle, who is next? The aerospace industry with its carbon footprint? Will the Port be asked to review every decision of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to determine if Alaska fisheries are green enough to curry favorable treatment of the 1,000 Puget Sound fossil fuel-propelled vessels that fish in our Alaska waters and contribute to over 10,000 Puget sound jobs? What other commercial activities might not be deemed politically correct by this populist sentiment?
The Port of Seattle has an important mission to create jobs by advancing trade and commerce, promoting economic growth, and stimulating economic development. Sadly the Terminal 5 lease is being used as an ill thought publicity stunt by environmental activists, and a political springboard for short-sighted politicians.
Cancelling the Foss Terminal 5 lease is unlikely to thwart the exploration of the vast oil and gas potential of Alaska’s offshore, but it would risk long-term economic damage to the Port, and to the Puget Sound and Alaska economies. We urge you to stay true to your mission and reaffirm the Terminal 5 lease with Foss.
Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc.
CC: Ed Murray, Mayor, City of Seattle
Sally Bagshaw, Seattle City Council
Tim Burgess, Seattle City Council
John Okamoto, Seattle City Council
Jean Godden, Seattle City Council
Bruce A. Harrell, Seattle City Council
Nick Licata, Seattle City Council
Mike O'Brien, Seattle City Council
Tom Rasmussen, Seattle City Council
Kshama Sawant, Seattle City Council
Jay Inslee, Governor, State of Washington