Arctic drilling

Obama's Alaska Trip Prompts Arctic Drilling Protest

Aug 31, 2015

People protesting oil drilling in the Arctic marched through downtown Portland Monday, and held a “die-in.” They're trying to send President Obama a message as he travels to Alaska this week.

Several dozen protesters carried placards, chanted and made their way to the federal building downtown, where some lay down for a “die-in.”

They said drilling in the Arctic will wreak havoc on the fragile ecosystem, and could bring the world closer to the 2 degree Celsius temperature increase scientists are warning about.

Kayakers protesting the arrival of Shell's Polar Pioneer rig in Port Angeles in April
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Environment groups have another opportunity to stop a Shell Oil rig from returning to Seattle.

They are appealing a Superior Court decision from earlier this summer that the Port of Seattle could host Shell's Arctic drilling fleet without conducting an environmental review.

The Shell Oil drilling rig Polar Pioneer sits on a transport vessel in Port Angeles, Wash., this spring.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The federal government on Monday gave Royal Dutch Shell the final permit it needs to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska's northwest coast for the first time in more than two decades.

Foss Maritime tugs pull the Polar Pioneer past downtown Seattle on the way to Terminal 5 on Thursday, May 14, 2015.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

A lawsuit challenging the Port of Seattle’s lease of a terminal as a homeport for Royal Dutch Shell’s Arctic oil-drilling fleet was rejected Friday by a King County Superior Court judge.

The Royal Dutch Shell icebreaker, Fennica, has left Portland after undergoing repairs at a local dry dock, but it wasn't an easy task.

Officials spent the afternoon removing environmental activists with Greenpeace USA who were hanging from Portland's St. Johns Bridge. Greenpeace and other activist groups oppose Shell's ongoing drilling efforts for oil in the Arctic.

Police and rescue officials spoke at a press conference after the protesters were removed.

Protesters dangling for two days from Portland's St. Johns Bridge kept a Shell Oil icebreaker at bay for more than 36 hours before it passed through en route to the Arctic.

Greenpeace and other environmental groups involved claimed their temporary blockade a success: they sent Shell a message and drew worldwide attention to their campaign to stop Arctic oil drilling and to wean the world from fossil fuels that contribute to climate change.

But what does it really mean in the context of plans for offshore drilling in the Arctic?

A Shell icebreaking vessel being protested in Portland by activist groups turned around Thursday morning to head back toward the dry dock after a showdown with protesters.

The U.S. Coast Guard was escorting the icebreaker on the Willamette River and warned the activists that they are breaking the law.

A Shell icebreaking vessel being protested by Greenpeace and other activist groups will not leave a Portland dock Wednesday, according to the Columbia River Bar Pilot dispatch.

Word of the cancellation came as 13 protesters dangled from the St. Johns Bridge about a mile downstream from the Shell vessel.

Greenpeace USA executive director Annie Leonard says the protesters dangling off the bridge have enough water and food to last for days.

Climate change activists in Portland are planning to take to the water in kayaks to engage in civil disobedience when an ice-breaking vessel working for the the Royal Dutch Shell oil company arrives at a local dry dock for repairs.

U.S. Coast Guard

A new report from The National Transportation Safety Board says poor planning and risk assessment by Shell Oil led to the wreck of the Kulluk oil rig off the coast of Alaska in December 2012.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Protesters of Arctic drilling have run afoul of the ocean environment in their own small way.

In addition to assembling a flotilla of kayaks on Seattle's Elliott Bay last weekend, the activists brought in a construction barge. It's a solar-powered platform for protests against Shell Oil's plans to drill in the Arctic Ocean. But the protesters anchored their solar barge over one of Seattle's most popular sites for scuba diving. 

Vincenzo Floramo / Greenpeace

After nearly two hours of public testimony Tuesday, Seattle port commissioners upheld their decision to let Arctic oil-drilling rigs dock at the Port of Seattle.

They did vote 5-0 to make it harder for Shell Oil to use the Port of Seattle's Terminal 5 beyond the two-year term of the lease the port approved in January.

U.S. Coast Guard

A US Coast Guard investigation blames Shell Oil's complacency and risk-taking for an oil rig running aground on a remote Alaskan Island on New Year's Eve 2012.

U.S. Coast Guard

Exactly a year ago, an oil rig being towed to Seattle ran aground on a remote island in the Gulf of Alaska. The New Year's Eve accident capped a year of trouble for Shell Oil in Alaska and in Puget Sound.

Shell is still seeking federal approval to drill in the Arctic, and a critical ship in Shell’s Arctic fleet is still sitting idle on the Bellingham, Wash., waterfront.

TJ Guiton

Shell Oil Co. had to postpone its Arctic drilling until 2014 after one of its oil rigs ran aground off the Alaska coast this winter, but Shell’s efforts to open a new frontier of oil exploration in the Arctic Ocean continue in Puget Sound.

The oil giant passed a key test with federal regulators in March in the waters off Anacortes, Wash., north of Seattle.

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