Murray: Seattle port’s plan to host Shell oil drills violates city permit

May 4, 2015, 8:23 AM | Updated: 1:49 pm

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announces that the Port of Seattle’s land use permit with the city do...

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announces that the Port of Seattle's land use permit with the city does not allow for Shell's oil drills to be moored at the port. (@MayorEdMurray)


The City of Seattle may complicate the Port of Seattle’s plans to host Shell oil drills this summer.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said Monday morning at a Climate Solutions breakfast that the Port of Seattle’s lease with Shell Oil is not legal. The port must reapply for a land-use permit with the city before allowing Shell’s oil drills in Elliott Bay, The Seattle Times reports.

Related: Seattle councilman among kayak activists protesting oil drills

“To prevent the full force of climate change, it’s time to turn the page on things like coal trains, oil trains and oil drilling rigs,” Murray said in a press release following the announcement. “It’s time to focus on the economy of the future: electric cars and transit, green homes and environmentally progressive businesses.

The city’s Department of Planning and Development determined that the Port of Seattle’s plan to accommodate Shell Oil’s Arctic oil drill, the Polar Pioneer, is not allowed under the port’s current permit with the city because its use is not a cargo terminal, Murray said. He added that he agrees with the department’s conclusion.

“I expect the port to obtain all required city permits before any moorage or work begins at (terminal 5) on off-shore oil drilling equipment,” Murray said. “While requiring a new permit may not stop the port’s plans, it does give the port an opportunity to pause and rethink this issue. I urge the port to consider: Is this really the right use of Terminal 5, even for the short term? Does this use reflect the businesses of the future we want in Seattle?”

“This is an opportunity for the port and all of us to make a bold statement about how oil companies contribute to climate change, oil spills and other environmental disasters – and reject this short-term lease,” he said.

The mayor’s statement comes as activist group sHell NO prepares to protest the Polar Pioneer’s arrival in Seattle later in May.

The port’s plan to host Shell’s oil drill has garnered heavy criticism from activists who have asked the port not to allow Shell to use 50 acres of port property across from downtown Seattle. The port land will house drill rigs, ice-breakers and other vessels during winter when Shell is not exploring for oil off Alaska’s coast.

Protesters in kayaks met the oil drill as it arrived at Port Angeles in April, its last stop before coming to Seattle where crews will install new equipment on the 400-foot rig.

Greenpeace activists boarded the oil rig to stage their own protest when it was about 750 miles northwest of Hawaii.

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Murray: Seattle port’s plan to host Shell oil drills violates city permit