Investing in ‘infrastructure’ means more than bridges and roads
The Port of Seattle takes our role as a regional economic engine seriously, especially in these difficult times. Despite the significant slowdown, we continued to invest in critical aviation and maritime infrastructures that have saved and created jobs while positioning us for the recovery.
Given the need to rebuild, we all have a vested interest in the current debate in Washington, DC, about “what infrastructure is.” Should federal infrastructure investments go beyond bridges and roads to include electric vehicles, broadband, cybersecurity or even child care and worker training?
President Joe Biden’s $ 1.7 trillion U.S. Jobs Plan answers that question with a three-way approach that combines physical infrastructure needs with sustainability and equity. The Port of Seattle takes this approach and stands ready to collaborate in these efforts.
With over 90% of global trade carried on ships and planes, port infrastructure is fundamental to the national and regional economy and quality of life – especially in one of the most trade-dependent states in the country .
At the port, we are investing $ 3.7 billion in physical infrastructure over the next five years. This summer, we will be opening new international and domestic terminals at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. In partnership with the Northwest Seaport Alliance and SSA Marine, we are investing nearly half a billion dollars to transform Terminal 5 near West Seattle into a world-class, environmentally friendly container facility this year. These are generational investments for the region that will greatly benefit from federal support.
In addition, two of the president’s proposals – a sustainable aviation fuel tax credit and $ 6 billion for a healthy ports initiative – would help us invest more in environmental sustainability, aviation and shipping. – two of the most difficult sectors to decarbonise.
We have set ourselves the goal of supplying every flight departing from Sea-Tac with a blend of at least 10% sustainable aviation fuel by 2028. Adoption of a fuel standard Clean and “cap and invest” legislation by state lawmakers this session have been huge wins, but we still need federal policies to make renewable fuels competitive.
Significant federal and international investments are also needed to decarbonise the maritime sector. For example, investments are needed to upgrade the local electricity grid if more ships and cargo equipment are to use shore power.
Regionally, the ports of Seattle, Tacoma, Northwest Seaport Alliance and Vancouver Fraser Port Authority in British Columbia updated the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy, which calls for the elimination of emissions of climate and atmospheric pollution linked to seaports by the middle of the century. We are doing our part, but federal assistance will be the key to that achievement.
Finally, clean port initiatives provide significant benefits to communities as well as to the climate. The port has developed programs like the Duwamish Valley Community Benefits Engagement Program and the South King County Fund to address the disproportionate impact of our operations on communities near the port.
These efforts align with President Biden’s call for a Civilian Climate Body to employ thousands of young people to address the threat of climate change and maintain our natural infrastructure.
In addition to President Biden’s proposal, Congress recently introduced several bills, such as the Climate Smart Ports Act, which we hope will be incorporated into the final U.S. jobs plan. Congress should also increase funding for existing grant programs such as rebuilding America’s infrastructure with sustainability and equity to achieve these goals.
It is essential that we pair our work to create jobs with programs focused on youth, innovation and workforce development, especially for those who have had the least access to opportunities.
Ultimately, the answer to “what is infrastructure?” are investments that create a healthy economy, environment and community. We call on Congress to support the President’s plan for sufficient funding for port infrastructure so that we can continue to help the region and the nation to rebuild better.