Faced with the imminent arrival of the Shell drilling fleet and newly announced White House backing for Arctic oil exploration, activists and environmentalists are readying for a fight.
In a New York Times op-ed on Tuesday, 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben blasted the Obama administration’s decision on Monday to grant the oil giant conditional approval to begin drilling operations in the Beaufort and Chuchki Seas this summer.
McKibben said that, despite his rhetoric, President Barack Obama has repeatedly exhibited “climate denial of the status quo sort,” where people “accept the science, and indeed make long speeches about the immorality of passing on a ruined world to our children,” but then ultimately “deny the meaning of the science, which is that we must keep carbon in the ground.”
“Even in this most extreme circumstance, no one seems able to stand up to the power of the fossil fuel industry. No one ever says no,” McKibben writes. He notes that now, “as with Keystone, it will be up to the environmental movement to block the plan.”
On the ground, activists have taken up that call.
In Seattle, where the fossil fuel giant has leased a port terminal to serve as a “homeport” for its drilling fleet—over the objection of city residents and elected officials—one activist early Tuesday perched atop a 20-foot metal tripod, blocking the gates to the Shell fuel-transfer station in protest of its Arctic drilling plans.
Later in the day, grassroots activists with the Coalition for Port Accountability are holding a rally at the Seattle Port headquarters to demand that it rescind Shell’s lease on the grounds that it violates port permit laws and was granted without public notification or consent. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and the City Council also support this call.
Meanwhile, according to reports, two of Shell’s floating drilling rigs are due to dock in Washington ports any day now.
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