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Greenpeace seeks dismissal of Shell lawsuit seeking safety zones around Arctic drill fleet

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By DAN JOLING, Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Attorneys for Greenpeace Inc. say Royal Dutch Shell PLC has demonstrated no harm from environmental protesters who boarded a ship carrying a drill rig last month.

In a written motion, Greenpeace asked U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason to reject Shell’s request for court-ordered, expanded safety zones around its Arctic drill fleet.

Shell’s lawsuit is seeking 1,000-meter safety zones around most of its fleet and 1,500 meters around drill vessels. The oil company says the expanded zones would keep crews and protesters safe.

But expanded safety zones — larger than the Coast Guard’s maximum 500 meters — would prevent Greenpeace from informing Americans about environmental problems, attorney Michael Moberly wrote.

“Shell’s goal is no secret: above all it wants this Court to stop such protests — even ones that are entirely legal and peaceful — from occurring near its hired vessels and property, so that the American people cannot see another iconic image of Greenpeace USA right next to ships that Shell plans to use to drill for oil in a fragile wilderness,” Moberly wrote.

Shell Offshore Inc. sued on April 7, one day after six Greenpeace protesters boarded the Blue Marlin, a heavy-lift ship carrying a Transocean Ltd. semi-submersible drilling unit, the Polar Pioneer, as it crossed the Pacific. Shell plans to use the Polar Pioneer this summer to drill an exploratory well in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska’s northwest coast. The protesters departed after six days.

If the judge creates safety zones through an injunction, Shell could seek contempt of court citations against Greenpeace protesters who trespass.

Conservation groups oppose Arctic offshore exploratory drilling, saying oil companies have not demonstrated that they can clean up a major spill in harsh conditions far from deep-water ports, major airports and other resources that could be of use in a spill.

At a hearing last week before Gleason, Shell officials said protesters had trespassed, putting themselves and crew members in danger on the high seas 750 miles northwest of Hawaii. The trespass, they said, will cost the company time and money for inspections of the drill rig to determine if damage or tampering occurred.

But Moberly said Shell’s broad request is based on a single “alleged trespass” and a series of “creatively strung-together quotations from websites” that are mostly about acts by Greenpeace entities that are not part of the lawsuit and that occurred years ago. Greenpeace Inc. said it should not be blamed for actions by Greenpeace International, the organization’s attorneys said.

Shell attorney Jeffrey Leppo last week called that part of Greenpeace’s “whack-a-mole jurisdictional policy” to dodge consequences by blaming another part of its network. A Greenpeace USA campaigner was among the six who boarded the Blue Marlin, Leppo noted, and Greenpeace USA publicized the boarding in announcements before and after.

Greenpeace said the Coast Guard should retain jurisdiction of safety organizations. Last month, the agency created temporary safety zones for Shell’s 28-vessel fleet while in Washington state’s Puget Sound, Moberly wrote. Other vessels must stay 500 yards away while Shell vessels are in transit and 100 yards away when they’re moored or anchored. The Coast Guard has also accepted Shell’s request for 500-meter safety zones in the Chukchi Sea, Moberly said.

Gleason has not said when she will respond to Shell’s injunction request.

Shell hopes to use the Port of Seattle to stage its Arctic drilling fleet. Activists in kayaks are planning to protest Shell operations.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.



Article by Nikolaj Lasbo published 6 May 2015 by The Seattle Times

Shell oil-rig lease: The realities of fossil fuels; an eyesore on the waterfront

Fossil-fuel realities

Regretfully, we will, for the present, have to continue relying on the utilization of fossil fuels for our energy needs [“Mayor’s politicking over Port lease hurts maritime industry,” Opinion, May 6].

When our mayor attempts to block the Shell oil rig from temporarily docking in Seattle, he engages in formulating pie-in-the-sky rhetoric by stating that it’s time to focus on the economy of the future: clean energy, electric cars and transit. That’s laudable, but that is in the future.

In the meantime, we have to cut back on fossil fuels but still rely upon them.

Martin Paup, Seattle

It’s ugly

Does anyone else notice how enormous and ugly the Shell offshore oil platform that would be semi-permanently docked in Elliott Bay is? It’s 300 feet tall — that dwarfs any other vessel moored here, and is taller than many permanent structures located within proximity to the shoreline.

It assuredly will impact views, tourism and quality of life here in a negative way.

This assault on our precious harbor must be stopped.

Gordon Griffiths, Seattle

Oil is in everything

In regard to the kayakers who are protesting the Shell oil rig coming to Seattle, this is a small list of what these protesters or any other kayaker will need for a one-day event: Life jacket, raincoat, wet suit (optional), first-aid kit, sunburn lotion, chapstick, sunglasses, backpack, water bottles, flashlight, bungee strap, bug repellent, waterproof boots, telephone, nylon rope, plastic bags and containers to keep food dry — and, of course, a big plastic kayak that you had to secure to the top of a Subaru to get to the beach.

My question: How can they effectively protest the drilling for petroleum when they support the petroleum industry by buying all the products made from petroleum?

Tom Ancich, Coupeville

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