Seattle's concern over hosting Shell's Arctic drilling rigs appears to have touched something of a nerve in Alaska. Today, Alaska's House Speaker Mike Chenault introduced a bill that, for all intents and purposes, instructs Seattle and Washington officials to back the fuck off from Shell's plans.
Two weeks ago, the Seattle city council passed a resolution asking Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to reject Shell's Chukchi Sea leases—the same leases that the Department of Interior later affirmed. Last month, both the council and Mayor Murray initiated a review over Port of Seattle permitting that's allowing Shell's Arctic drilling rigs to stay in Seattle.
The Alaskan legislators' bill asks that copies of the resolution be sent to the entire Seattle City Council, Mayor Ed Murray, Washington state's congressional delegation, Governor Jay Inslee, the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, Alaska's congressional delegation, and the Secretary of the Interior. It "urges" Seattle and Washington officials to "refrain from destructive attacks on the economy, jobs, and lives of people of this state," and invites Royal Dutch Shell to use an Alaskan port if the lease with the Port of Seattle is rescinded.
There are two things that the bill gets wrong, however. It says that Governor Inslee opposed the lease with the Port of Seattle, but he didn't—not really. Inslee said that he thought people's concern and frustration about the lease were legitimate. Not exactly a full-throated opposition. The bill also says that Inslee asked Jewell to reject the current Chukchi Sea leases, but the governor wrote to the Secretary of the Interior and asked her not to put up any future lease sales in the Arctic instead.
The Alaskan state legislature only has nine days left of a 90-day session. The bill was introduced on the Alaskan House floor today and referred to the House Resources Committee, where it can receive a hearing.
People really don't give state legislators enough credit for their wit. Read the whole text of the bill here.
UPDATE: Here's a statement from the bill's main sponsor, Rep. Mike Chenault:
I filed House Joint Resolution 25 because it’s important for state and federal politicians from the State of Washington to know we don’t appreciate their interference in Alaska affairs; we're not their colony.
HJR25 points out the hypocrisy of their leaders’ letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell objecting to her decision allowing Royal Dutch Shell to continue its Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) exploration plans on our state’s coast.
We’re used to colonialism coming from bureaucrats on the East Coast and federal overreach; we're not used to this blatant attempt at interstate overreach. Washington State depends greatly on Alaska resources and business, to the tune of some 113,000 jobs and $6.2 billion in wages, according to the McDowell Group.
HJR25 is a way for us to starkly point out their hypocrisy by pointing out the environmental impacts of their own industry and important economic engines in Boeing Corp. and the Export Import Bank. It’s pretty simple, arguing environmental protection up here via oil and gas exploration can be turned by us to arguing that Boeing jets are responsible for irreversible harm every time they transit our airspace. Arguing for economic protection since they depend on our fisheries, and threatening not to homeport Shell’s boats can be turned by us – the beneficiaries of the jobs – into the Export-Import Bank’s impacts. Fair is fair.
#ThisIsOurAlaska, not Washington’s. We value the fishing and shipping and refining relationships we have with Washington. We don’t value their meddling in Alaska affairs, and national energy security affairs.