You know things have reached a tipping point when Arctic sea ice has melted so much due to climate change that Big Oil is frothing to stick their drills into the sea bed, and the government gives them a green light to proceed despite the industries shady track record, their own admission that these are the most challenging waters in the world, and unreliable spill prevention measures. There’s a buzz in the air all over Cascadia as activists are rising up in solidarity against offshore oil drilling in the Arctic

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The Polar Pioneer arriving into the Strait of Juan de Fuca

As the saying goes…If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention

Royal Dutch Shell brought their floating offshore drilling rig into Washington waters nearly a month ago and received an unwelcome from a handful of kayaktivists in Port Angeles. This is part of their grand scheme to use the State of Washington and our waters and ports for staging their Arctic conquest over the next 2 years. Shell is expected to bring their massive floating drill and support vessels to Terminal 5 at the Port of Seattle any day now where it will loom large on the Emerald City’s horizon, posing a stark contrast to Seattle icons like Mount Rainier and the Space Needle. Allowing this to occur, and indirectly supporting offshore drilling flies in the face of Seattle and Washington’s leadership on climate change, addressing changes in ocean chemistry, and the looming challenge of sea level rise. Fortunately, Seattle has a bold leader in Mayor Ed Murray who has drawn a line in the sand and used a legal interpretation of the existing permit for Terminal 5 to rule that this activity is inconsistent with the current permit. Mayor Murray summed it up well in saying “I believe that Seattle and our port should be investing in the economy of the future. We know that because of climate change that oil drilling and oil rigs are going to be the economy of the past.” The Obama Administration could learn a thing or two from Mayor Murray after the Department of the Interior granted Shell permission to begin drilling this summer in the Chukchi Sea despite the fact that the company’s first forays into exploring the new waters were plagued with numerous safety and operational problems. Two of its oil rigs ran aground and had to be towed to safety, and the department concluded that Shell had failed in a wide range of basic operational tasks, like supervision of contractors that performed critical work. The feds even acknowledge there is at least a 75% chance of a major spill occurring as a result of drilling in the Arctic. President Obama said that national interest would not be served if the Keystone XL pipeline “significantly exacerbated the problem of carbon pollution,” but apparently the same logic does not hold true for Shell’s pursuits in the Arctic.

A Call to Action

There are a number of opportunities to make your voice heard to raise awareness that offshore drilling is Not The Answer in the next few days. Activists from the Northwest Straits & South Sound Chapters are organizing Hands Across the Sand events at noon on Saturday, May 16th at Locust Beach near Bellingham and Narrows Beach near Tacoma, respectively. These events will also be combined with beach cleanups, so bring the family out for a day of stewardship, say No to dirty fossil fuels and Yes to clean energy. There is also a massive flotilla of kayaktivists organizing a festival of resistance paddle out to Terminal 5 at the Port of Seattle to say sHellNO to offshore drilling. Come down to Seacrest Park in West Seattle at 10am on Saturday, May 16th with your SUP/kayak/surfboard/canoe/sailboat and join in the fun!