Hundreds of activists in kayaks and small boats were on the waters on Saturday to protest plans by Royal Dutch Shell to resume oil exploration in the Arctic and keep two of its drilling rigs stored in the port of Seattle.
Environmental groups have vowed to disrupt the Anglo-Dutch oil company’s efforts to use Seattle as a home base as it outfits the rigs to return to the Chukchi Sea off Alaska, saying drilling in the remote Arctic waters could lead to an ecological catastrophe.
Environmental groups say harsh and shifting weather conditions make it impossible to drill in the Arctic, a region with a fragile environment that helps regulate the global climate because of its vast layers of sea ice.
While the mainstream media has highlighted the opposition of Seattle Mayor Ed Murray (Democrat), the real story is something else altogether. Murray kept secret that the rigs were headed for Seattle and considerably shortened the time available for activists to build and organise the opposition.
Councillor Kshama Sawant of Socialist Alternative says that Murray has been playing both sides - just like the Obama administration:
"While Obama speaks about serious climate action, he recently gave Shell the green light to drill in the Arctic. Not only does this fly in the face of the science Obama says drives his decisions, Shell also has a criminal drilling track record. One of its subsidiaries pleaded guilty to eight felony counts for environmental and other violations related to Arctic drilling."