May 22, 2015 - #ShellNo & Opposition to Arctic Drilling
Last week, the Obama administration announced conditional approval for Royal Dutch Shell to return to the Arctic for oil and gas exploration. His administration upheld a 2008 Arctic lease sale, which cleared a hurdle for Shell to return to the Arctic waters.
The decision comes in the wake of a series of incidents in 2012 involving Shell’s Artic drilling rig, which illustrated the dangers of drilling in the Arctic.
Following Obama’s decision, Shell Oil shipped its Arctic drilling rig, the Polar Pioneer, to the Port of Seattle, despite the mayor of Seattle stating that Shell did not have a proper permit to dock in Seattle. The Seattle city council issued a notice of violation against Shell, who now face daily fines for being docked illegally.
News of Shell’s drilling rig coming to Seattle quickly spread and a weekend of mass demonstrations were organized in opposition.
On May 16th, thousands joined in a mass demonstration, both on land and in the Puget Sound, against Shell Oil’s plan to drill in the Arctic. Tribal canoes were joined by Kayaktavists who took to the frigid waters of the Puget Sound to encircle the Polar Pioneer. Following a traditional protocol landing lead by the Duwamish, a massive rally took place featuring Alaskan Natives and other tribal leaders.
On May 18th, a second demonstration was held at the Port of Seattle. Thousands again marched and set up blockades to the entrance of the Port of Seattle.
The series of actions were proceeded by a gathering of nine tribal Nations in Seattle on May 14th, who gathered to express their joint opposition to the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal. The GPT, if built, would be the largest coal export terminal in the U.S. The terminal is proposed to be built on the traditional lands of the Lummi Nation.
With the recent mass demonstrations in Seattle, tribal Nations across Turtle Island continue to lead the larger efforts to combat climate change, ending the desecration of Mother Earth, and towards protecting the welfare of future generations.
Tribal canoes and kayaktavists paddle to the Polar Pioneer.
Nataanii Means (with mic) joins with LRI’s Matt Remle (green shirt) at rally opposing arctic drilling. Photo by Alex Garland.
Seattle city council member Kshama Sawant, co-sponser of Seattle’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day resolution, canoes with tribal leaders. Photo by Damien Conway.
Demonstrators march to blockade Port of Seattle entrances. Photo by Seattle PI