United States:‭ ‬Protest targets Shell's Arctic drill plans

May 24, 2015
Activists march and rally at the port of Seattle, May 18.

More than‭ ‬200‭ ‬environmental activists‭ ‬blocked a terminal in Seattle‭’‬s port to protest against Royal Dutch Shell‭’‬s imminent plans to begin drilling for oil in the Arctic.‭

A huge vessel,‭ ‬named Polar Pioneer,‭ ‬is temporarily stationed at the port before heading out to the Arctic to explore for oil.‭ ‬If successful,‭ ‬it will be the first time the multinational has exploited oil in the Arctic.‭

Demonstrations began on May‭ ‬18‭ ‬with a march from Harbor Island to the rig.‭ ‬Campaigners were peaceful and‭ ‬“festive‭”‬,‭ ‬according to some reports,‭ ‬with live music and many children present.‭

The protests came after US President Barack Obama gave Shell‭ ‬approval to begin the project in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska‭’‬s North Slope,‭ ‬in spite of months of protests and criticism from environmental groups and local communities.‭

Earlier protests by‭ ‬“kayactivists‭”‬ involved campaigners taking to the water in small boats and surrounding Shell vessels.‭

Greenpeace Senior Research Specialist Tim Donaghy responded to Obama‭’‬s actions:‭ ‬“Instead of holding Shell accountable and moving the country towards a sustainable future,‭ ‬our federal regulators are catering to an ill-prepared company in a region that doesn‭’‬t tolerate cutting corners.‭

“Shell has a history of dangerous malfunctioning in the Arctic while global scientists agree that Arctic oil must stay in the ground if we‭’‬re to avoid catastrophic climate change.‭

“Shell‭’‬s exploration plan that the Obama administration just approved is yet another example of federal regulators looking the other way while Shell gets away with shortcomings that could lead to a disaster in the Arctic.‭”

Campaigners,‭ ‬using the hashtag‭ ‬#ShellNo to spread the message,‭ ‬organised a Kayak Flotilla and another mass direct action from May‭ ‬16‭ ‬to May‭ ‬18‭ ‬to try to reverse the decision.‭

“Arctic drilling means destruction for spectacular wilderness,‭ ‬doom for our climate,‭ ‬and disaster for peoples in the global south,‭”‬ said the website of ShellNo.org.‭

“We reject the notion‭ ‬that we must sacrifice the wellbeing of future generations to earn a living,‭ ‬and believe that working people and environmentalists can build just,‭ ‬sustainable economies for our port and our world.‭ ‬But we can't rely on business as usual‭; ‬that's what got us here.‭”‬

Critics condemned Obama's hypocrisy over climate change policies,‭ ‬perceiving the Shell decision to be a huge threat to the environment.‭

Director‭ ‬at‭ ‬the‭ ‬Natural Resources Defense Council Frank Matzner told Mother Jones:‭ ‬“It's a total mystery why the Obama administration and‭ ‬[Interior‭]‬ Secretary‭ ‬[Sally‭]‬ Jewell are continuing down this path that is enormously risky,‭ ‬contradicts climate science,‭ ‬and is completely unnecessary to meet our energy goals.‭”‬

“It's a‭ ‬dangerous folly to think that this can be done.‭”‬

The US government,‭ ‬however,‭ ‬has said that the decision and the drilling process were undertaken‭ ‬“carefully‭”‬.‭

‬[Reprinted from TeleSUR English.‭]

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