Arctic oil drilling: activists demand “climate justice now”
Hundreds of angry protesters entered Seattle port in kayaks and small boats last weekend to oppose drilling for oil in the Arctic Ocean.
Covering a large part of Elliott Bay, they protested against Royal Dutch Shell’s plans to resume oil exploration in the Arctic.
The firm proposes digging for oil off the coast of Alaska and also wants to temporarily place two of its drilling sites in Seattle’s port. One arrived just days before the protest.
The oil platforms facilitate drilling to extract and process oil or to temporarily store the product until it can be brought to shore for refining and marketing.
The peaceful crowd gathered near the recently implemented 400ft tall Polar Pioneer drilling rig carrying makeshift placards that displayed slogans: “Climate Justice” and “No Arctic Drilling”.
Police and coastguards ensured that the group did not get too close to the rig as they made their way to its location.
The Arctic is environmentally fragile and drilling in is risky according to the campaigners.
Executive director of Greenpeace US Annie Leonard said: “The world needs to move away from fossil fuels. Why would we invest in an energy source that scientists say is leading us to catastrophe?”
However, Shell believes storing vast amount of oil in the waters will secure energy for the future.
Cathy Giessel, a Republican state senator from Alaska, commented that the project will bring revenue and jobs and “will affect economy”.
Speaking to Sky News the activists opposed the job prospects and remarked that jobs and resources can be secured in solar and wind energy.
Earlier this week US president Obama granted Shell the go-ahead to commence the operation. The move was criticised by the event organiser Emily Johnston, who said the turnout at the Bay proved the strength of public feeling against the project.
Oil drilling in the Arctic is a dangerous and high-risk enterprise. Extreme weather conditions and its remote location increases difficulties and complicate logistics.
Sea water’s fragile ecosystem is extremely vulnerable to an oil spill, which would hugely effect local environment and fisheries.
According to the company’s website the Arctic holds approximately 13 per cent of the world’s undiscovered oil.