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Seattle’s Silly War On Oil Rigs

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 19.49.45From an article by Loren Steffy published 16 March 2015 by under the headline:

Seattle’s Silly War On Oil Rigs: Reminder, The City Is Also Home To Boeing, The World’s Largest Jet Maker

If a plane flies over Seattle, does anyone hear it? Probably not, because they’re all down at the docks protesting the parking of drilling rigs used in the Arctic. When the port of Seattle agreed to allow Shell to park drill ships on the city’s waterfront, a “kind of civic call to arms” erupted, according to the New York Times.

A unanimous City Council lined up alongside the mayor to question the legality of the agreement with the Port of Seattle, a court challenge was filed by environmental groups, and protesters, in bluster or bluff, vowed to block the rigs’ arrival — though the exact timetable is secret, for security reasons — with a flotilla of kayaks in Elliott Bay.

One resident referred to the lease as “a crime against the planet.” Understanding the nature of the “crime” means winding through some serpentine legal logic.

According to the Times:

At the center of the dispute lies a tangle of questions about the politics of climate change. Since Shell will not be drilling or exploring for oil anywhere near Seattle, but merely parking for the night, so to speak, can or should the company be denied a berth because of what might or might not happen thousands of miles away off the north coast of Alaska, or what could take place years in the future if burning fossil fuels — maybe produced by Shell, maybe not — raises sea levels or causes other havoc? Lawyers for the port, in court filings, have said opponents are waging an “intense” political campaign that will falter on the rocks of a narrow contractual dispute.

Opponents of the contract, though, said that protecting Seattle’s environment, in the broadest sense, means taking on the fight everywhere. Whether there may be harm from greenhouse gases, or possible environmental damage from an oil spill or other accident in Alaska, to which Seattle is deeply connected in its economy and history, what Shell does in the Arctic, they say, will not stay there.

Which is why I ask about the planes. Because Seattle is also home to Boeing BA +1.11%, the world’s largest commercial jet manufacturer. While the Shell rig may represent a potential danger to the planet, Shell is still struggling with the technical challenges of drilling in the Arctic. It has yet to produce a single drop of oil from the region.

Meanwhile, thousands of Boeing planes zip through the skies worldwide daily, belching forth carbon that is far more damaging to the planet than anything Shell is likely to tap in the Arctic — should it ever succeed there.

The demand for oil is too great to be stopped by a fleet of kayaks.

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