Seattle is a port city. The Port of Seattle is a public agency. It gobbles up our city's tax dollars to run its money-making operations, and in exchange we elect five port commissioners who—in theory—make sure port business is representing our interests.
But the ugly truth is that no one really knows what goes on at the port, no one pays much attention to what goes on at the port, voters and readers find port issues and reporting and elections boring—and your elected port commissioners know it.
And the port takes advantage of all of that when doing things like, oh, secretly negotiating to host Shell's Arctic drilling rigs—even though the port's slogan is "Where a sustainable world is headed," and even though recently published research showed that burning any oil and gas from the Arctic could fry the planet.
Seattle's habit of giving the port a pass—our habit as voters—has to change, and it has to change now.
If you believe global warming is real—which you do—then nothing less than the future of life on earth is at stake. Sorry, that's not hyperbole. I wish it was. I wish this planet-destroying deal wasn't running through Seattle's port. But it is, and the shady, public-process-dodging decision your elected port officials just voted to approve—a decision to host dangerous, short-sighted Arctic oil drilling machines that will accelerate climate change—makes your port, and by extension you, complicit in something terrible.
That research mentioned above? It was published in Nature, and it showed that opening up any of the Arctic to drilling could help push global warming past two degrees Celsius by the end of the century—a change scientists and governments all over the world have long agreed is a "dangerous," holy-shit scenario.
We don't want to be complicit in that kind of self-destructive insanity. You don't want to be complicit in that kind of self-destructive insanity.
And there's something we can do about it.
The port has the power to rescind the Shell lease. The port can reverse course. We have the power to make our elected officials accountable to the will of the voters. And, in tree-hugging Seattle, it's hard to imagine that people want to support Arctic drilling. So how can we get the port to rescind the lease?
By giving them hell.
These are your port commissioners, Seattle. Their names are: Tom Albro, Courtney Gregoire, John Creighton, Bill Bryant, and Stephanie Bowman.
The time has come to bother the hell out of these people. We can bother them by emailing them at their port addresses: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com. And we can bother them by contacting them at their day jobs. If the port commissioner is a lawyer, that information is conveniently located on the Washington State Bar Association website.
The stakes are too high to play nice.
So I am personally going to bother the hell out of these port commissioners for the next five days, until the next port commission meeting on Tuesday, March 10. (That meeting is being held at the airport and is open to the public.) I'll be profiling one port commissioner a day, highlighting their positions on the Shell decision, digging through their campaign contributions, and sharing their contact info with you so you can bother them too.
Here's my first profile: Port Commissioner Bill Bryant.
Got any tips about our port commissioners? Send them my way: firstname.lastname@example.org.