VIDEO: Local Activist Steve Edmiston’s third ‘Briefing’ to Port of Seattle


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Des Moines resident Steve Edmiston last week provided the third two-minute public-comment segment of his ‘Briefing’ to the Port of Seattle Commissioners.

Edmiston is responding to an FAA and Port staff briefing last Spring that he contends was both incomplete and inadequate because it failed to convey, among other things, data on the harms being caused to humans and the environment by airplanes.

The goals of the documentary project – currently titled “The Briefing” – include using the collected public comments as the spine of a feature documentary film.

“we want to actually see, after the Commissioners are presented with the information they asked for but did not receive, what new choices the Commissioners will make – or not make – to care for the human species and the environment that can be found living beneath the flight paths,” Edmiston said.

As a private citizen, under Port bylaws, Edmiston must provide his 43-minute briefing – the same time provided to the FAA and Port staff – in two-minute public comment segments. Edmiston estimates the project will take 9 to 12 months to complete.

In episode #3, titled “You and Me,” Edmiston underscored the power of the Port Commissioners to take unparalleled actions to effect change to protect the airport neighbor communities:

You control the Port of Seattle and SeaTac Airport. As between us, you are the 800-pound gorilla. You are the collective Goliath. And, like wizards at Hogwarts, you have a magic wand – an annual $670 million-dollar wand – to protect our communities. If you choose to use it.

Edmiston referenced his experience in environmental superfund litigation and his experience as a filmmaker as he expressed concern about how the Port has, or might dismiss, developing science in relation to the airport neighbor communities.

I believe I’ve learned how to tell the story about what happens when a government agency fixates on economic growth, uses regulatory compliance as a shield for inaction, and fails to intervene on behalf of humans and the environment, even when presented with the growing associations to community harms – in other words, when a government agency, knowingly or not, runs the big tobacco playbook against its own citizens. I don’t want to tell that story. That is why I’m giving you this briefing.

Edmiston shared two other triggers for his decision to play the role of “citizen” before the Port.

First, in the past decade, I’ve survived Stage 4 Hodgkins Lymphoma. And AML Leukemia. And two bone marrow transplants. And losing half my right lung. While there may be no proof of causation between my life near SeaTac and cancer, I submit scientists would readily accept we have become “associated.”

The second trigger is the 2016 EPA Environmental Justice Screening of air toxins. I did not know that under our SeaTac flight path we already live in the 100th percentile – the highest percentile – in the entire United States – for “Cancer Risk lifetime.” And for “Respiratory Illness Risk” lifetime. This data is only another association, intended to identify potential environmental issues. But this association was my first data point. And now it’s yours – at the very time you seek to increase overflights with your Century Agenda.

The filmmaker provided the Port presentation slides, and a map downloaded from the Environmental Protection Agency’s EJScreen website showing the EJScreen’s data on a large swath of the City of Des Moines.

“I know that this initial EPA data is designed to generate more study – perhaps more urgency – around investigating the harms around the airport that may be caused by the airport. My fear is that, for whatever reason, Port staff has not been proactive in collecting and sharing this type of data or other studies from around the world with the Commissioners. How can they make good decisions to protect the airport neighbor communities if they are not being provided the science that is developing? And if the reason the staff hasn’t provided such information is that they are dismissing the science as only associative, then we’re in the same cycle that was triggered by the Big Tobacco executives that determined to deny smoking caused lung cancer – by dismissing each report and study as not-definitive, as not proving causation. It’s a potentially catastrophic approach.”

PREVIOUS EPISODES:

The transcript of Edmiston’s Episode 3 public comment, slides for presentation, and the EPA EJScreen map can be found here (PDF file).

Edmiston also contemporaneously submitted a Public Records Request to the Port of Seattle associated with the subject of the public comment. The request can be found here: https://portofseattle.nextrequest.com/requests/18-112

About Steve Edmiston
Steve is a Seattle business, intellectual property, and entertainment lawyer, screenwriter, and independent film producer. He has written and produced many feature-length and short films which have won festival awards and accolades (including “Crimes of the Past,” “A Relative Thing,” “The Day My Parents Became Cool,” and most recently “The Maury Island Incident”). He serves on the Port Townsend Film Festival Board of Directors, has juried for the Washington Filmworks Innovation Lab, has taught screenwriting and producing at Seattle University, University of Washington, and the Seattle Film Institute, and is a frequent speaker on the subject of the business of independent film.

TRANSCRIPT OF EPISODE #3:

Thank you. I’m Steve Edmiston. I’m here to continue your briefing on NextGen and proposed increased overflights – the briefing that you asked for but did not receive from the FAA – two minutes at a time.

Today is about you and me and why I’m here. You control the Port of Seattle and SeaTac Airport. As between us, you are the 800-pound gorilla. You are the collective Goliath. And, like wizards at Hogwarts, you have a magic wand – an annual $670 million-dollar wand – to protect our communities. If you choose to use it.

In contrast, I come as a citizen. I don’t practice aviation law, but I’ve litigated superfund lawsuits across the country. I haven’t won an Oscar, but I’ve written motion pictures for 20 years. What I’ve learned is this – I’ve learned how to tell the story about what happens when a government agency fixates on economic growth, uses regulatory compliance as a shield, and fails to intervene on behalf of humans and the environment, even when presented with the growing associations to community harm – in other words, when a government runs the big tobacco playbook against its own citizens. I don’t want to tell that story. That is why I’m giving you this briefing.

Two other triggers for my presence.

First, in the past decade, I’ve survived Stage 4 Hodgkins Lymphoma. And AML Leukemia. And two stem cell transplants. And losing half my right lung. While there may be no proof of causation between my life near SeaTac and cancer, I submit that scientists would readily accept we are “associated.”

The second trigger is the 2016 EPA Environmental Justice Screening of air toxins. I did not know that under our SeaTac flight path we already live in the 100th percentile – the highest percentile – in the entire United States – for “Cancer Risk lifetime.” And for “Respiratory Illness Risk” lifetime. This data is only an association, intended to identify potential environmental issues. But this association was my first data point. And now it’s yours – at the very time you seek to increase overflights as part of your Century Agenda.

Thank you for giving a citizen two-minutes to comment.

For more information on this compelling new ‘Citizen vs Goliath’ project, visit https://www.facebook.com/thebriefingproject/

Our prior coverage is available here.

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