Shell’s Arctic Drilling Rig Gets Cold Reception in Seattle
On Thursday, three days after the Obama administration gave Shell Oil permission to drill in the Arctic Ocean this summer, a giant oil rig leased by the company steamed into Seattle to be outfitted to explore for petroleum in the treacherous waters of the Chukchi Sea.
The arrival of the 307-foot-tall, 400-foot-wide Polar Pioneer was greeted by a flotilla of protesters in kayaks who held aloft a sign that read “Arctic Drilling = Climate Chaos,” crisscrossing the path of the giant rig as tugs slowly towed it to port.
Shell's plug-ugly Arctic drilling rig bulls into Seattle harbor, lovely fleet of kayaktivists 'greet' it. Iconic. pic.twitter.com/oIpyPg97Ln— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) May 14, 2015
In a New York Times opinion piece published on Tuesday, climate activist Bill McKibben slammed the Obama administration’s provisional approval of Shell’s plans to drill in a region of the Earth most affected by global warming. “It’s as if the tobacco companies were applying for permission to put cigarette machines in cancer wards,” he wrote.
Shell is using Seattle as a staging ground for its Arctic fleet, triggering protests that promise to escalate as the summer drilling season approaches. Seattle’s mayor is opposed to Shell’s plans, and the city contends a contractor preparing the drilling fleet lacks a valid permit to perform the work.