Activism Environment

sHellNo! Kayaktivists Latest Action

Dennis Bratland, Wikimedia Commons
Written by Ethan M. Long

Shell’s “Noble Discoverer,” an oil drilling rig headed to Alaska was met by 21 “kayaktivists” this morning outside Mukilteo, WA, who attempted to block it from sailing further north.

The United States Coast Guard, which enforces a 500-yard safety zone around all ships moving through the water, issued $500 citations to five protesters.

The “sHell No!” flotilla is a collective of activists associated with various groups, including Backbone Campaign, aiming to stop Shell’s arctic drilling. While the group has sponsored direct action in the past, the month of June saw activity and media coverage grow, holding events throughout the month in what they call the “June Against Doom” campaign. On their blog, the group calls for “anyone who resides on planet Earth” to help them “join the ongoing fight to defend the land and life from Royal Dutch Shell’s poisonous plan to destroy the earth.”

A posting on the group’s Facebook page last week announced that “Shell’s second Arctic oil rig just received it’s certificate of compliance from the Coast Guard and could be leaving Everett [WA] on it’s way to Alaska any day now. Time to get ready to help stop Shell’s second oil rig.”

Scouters have watched the Noble Discoverer in person and through a app, which uses data provided Automatic Identification System transponders required on each ship, showing ship positions and speeds around the world.

From a press release sent to the media after the action:

“We knew we couldn’t stop them,” says Carlo Voli of 350 Seattle, who was detained today, as well as on June 15 for blockading the Polar Pioneer in Elliott Bay. “But we couldn’t just watch them go; we had to do all we could to slow them down, and get people to focus on what a disaster Arctic drilling would be.”

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Before dawn on June 15, dozens of activists jumped into their kayaks in an attempt to block the Shell oil rig Polar Pioneer, the first to make the journey to Alaskan waters. According to a posting on a Facebook event created by the sHellNo Action Council, “You can join on the water or on land (there will be loaner and rental kayaks available). Either way, we need as many people as possible to come to take a stand against Arctic Drilling on this day.”

Within hours, the Coast Guard had detained and issued citations to kayakers, and the Polar Pioneer began its journey, arriving in Dutch Harbor off Alaska last Saturday.

Shell’s drilling campaign was approved in May by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, a regulatory government agency. “sHell No!” points out that this same agency published a study earlier this year that “over the course of more than three quarters of a century of oil and gas activities —[there is] a 75-percent chance of one or more spills of more than 1,000 barrels of oil.”

Before dawn on June 15, dozens of activists jumped into their kayaks in an attempt to block the… Click to Tweet

On June 23, a letter was sent from Earthjustice, a non-profit environmental law organization, to Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell pointing out that while Shell’s “Exploration Plan” calls for the Polar Pioneer and the Noble Discoverer to work at the same time, the range of sites violate the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s 2013 regulation that “Operators must maintain a minimum spacing of 24 kilometers (15 mi) between other seismic source vessels during exploration activities to avoid significant synergistic or cumulative effects from multiple oil and gas exploration activities on foraging or migrating walruses.”

Earthjustice’s letter points out that “the distance between the drill sites ranges from approximately 2 to 13 miles, depending on which sites are drilled.” The organization previously sued the Port of Seattle over Shell’s lease of Terminal 5 for its drilling fleet “without public proceedings or environmental review.” According to EarthJustice, the decision to use Seattle’s port was kept behind closed-doors.


Source: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, EarthJustice, Fish and Wildlife Service, EarthJustice


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About the author

Ethan M. Long

Ethan Long is a journalist based out of Boston, MA.

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sHellNo! Kayaktivists Latest Action

by Ethan M. Long
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