Activists constructed a tripod at the entrance to Shell Oil’s fuel transfer station in Seattle Tuesday morning, in an attempt to create a blockade.
Atop the tripod is Seattle activist Annie Lukins.
“We’ve raised a tripod outside of the Shell facilities on Harbor Island,” Lukins told KIRO Radio. “We shut down operations this morning and that was our objective; to shut down operations at Shell and to call out to Seattle to join the festival of resistance happening next weekend.”
Two Shell drill ships are expected to arrive in the Puget Sound this week, including one set to arrive in Everett on Tuesday. A second drill ship, the Polar Pioneer, is expected to arrive in Seattle later this week, where protesters say they will meet the ship in kayaks.
Lukins said that she will say on the tripod “as long as it takes,” and “we’ll see” if she gets arrested. She said she is a member of sHellNO and Rising Tide Seattle. Both activists groups are opposed to the Port of Seattle hosting the Shell oil fleet.
But Lukins said that her small group of protesters did not erect the blockade to send a message to Shell.
“We’re not here to talk to Shell, frankly,” Lukins said. “Shell already knows the impacts of what they are doing and the impacts to shoreline communities. We are here to communicate with the people of Seattle, and we are here to communicate with people all over the word who have a stake in this. And we are here to grow a movement.”
Shell’s Arctic drilling rig is en route to the Port of Seattle for maintenance and repairs over the summer season.
But Shell has had some resistance to coming to Seattle. Aside from planned protests anticipating the rig’s arrival, the city’s Department of Planning and Development has ruled that the port’s agreement with Shell violates its permit with the City of Seattle. Mayor Ed Murray and the City Council are urging the port to reconsider its lease at Terminal 5.
“Maintaining a healthy working waterfront and maritime economy are essential for Seattle’s long-term success. But we can achieve that without contributing to the catastrophic and irreversible impacts to our climate that Arctic drilling represents,” Councilmember Mike O’Brien said on Monday.
Foss Maritime announced Friday it would appeal the city’s determination Foss would need a new permit to host the rig and support ships at Terminal 5.
The port is expected to vote Tuesday on whether to delay a lease agreement.
“By coming to Seattle in defiance of the mayor’s announcement, Shell is proving again what we already know,” said Marianna Coles Curtis, who is involved with the protest at the fuel station.
“They are getting away with illegally docking their drilling fleet here by paying $500 a day,” Curtis said. “It’s like a parking ticket. This is a company that made nearly $15 billion in profits last year, so $500 a day isn’t anything to them. It just shows how companies like Shell, BP and Exxon can trample all over a community, and then get away with a small fine that hardly takes a chip out of their profit.”
Meanwhile, Royal Dutch Shell’s Arctic drilling program cleared a major bureaucratic hurdle on Monday.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management approved the multi-year exploration plan in the Chukchi Sea for Shell after reviewing thousands of comments from the public, Alaska Native organizations and state and federal agencies.
Shell must still obtain other permits from state and federal agencies, including one to drill from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
The company must also obtain government opinions that find Shell can comply with terms and conditions of the Endangered Species Act.
In a press release, Lukins expanded upon her reasons for the blockade.
“Shell already knows the impacts of drilling in the Arctic,” Lukins said. “They are placing themselves in defiance of climate science, in defiance of the treaty subsistence rights of the Inupiat, and in defiance of our elected official here in Seattle.”
“I’m here because I’m not the only young person who wants to raise her children near the shore. Whether they are my kids or the kids of the Inupiat people of the Arctic, I want the next generation to be able to to eat fish from the ocean whose flesh doesn’t carry the killing toxins of crude oil,” she said. “Shell has already proven they cannot safely operate in the Arctic, and the Niger Delta has shown us that they don’t clean up after themselves. We need to ban arctic drilling now.”
MyNorthwest.com’s Stephanie Klein and the Associated Press contributed to this report.