Why You Should Give a Fuck About the Port of Seattle's Decision to Help Destroy the Planet


Fuck yes. Give'em hell!!!
I searched the Bar Association site for each and found only John W. Creighton III #23306 and Courtney O'Grady Gregoire #37253.
How far do you carry it Sydney? Should we put the airport out of business. All those jets burning jet fuel in the high atmosphere are also frying the planet (and creating the demand for that article oil. How about the seaport? All those goods are being manufactured in China with coal that fries the planet, even more so that petroleum consumption, the goods are loaded on to trucks and trains that burn more petroleum, to be transported to warehouses and retail outlets powered by coal-fired electricity, to sit in homes that are growing bigger to hold all that stuff.

If American's didn't consume so much stuff and demand cars that will go 500 miles on an energy fill, at 70 mph, at a non-tesla price point, and electricity, we would not need arctic oil. If we were willing to 18 cents a Kilowatt for solar panel electricity instead of 7 cents for hydro-electricity that kills are fish or coal-fired electricity that kills are air, then we would not have this problem. You can blame Shell or the Port all you want, but is not the problem really us and the choices we make? Shell doesn't give a rat's ass what energy we consume, as long as they can get a return on the capital investments it takes to produce (or harvest) it and transmit it to us.

10% profit on drilling oil or 10% profit on solar panels is all the same to them. 10% is 10%. But they know we won't buy it, or buy as much of it, if the energy costs twice as much, which solar does. Wind is competitive with coal, but not hydro-power, as long as it is on land; however, we would need to accept a turbine on ever piece of land we see, with the damage to birds, bats, and potentially bees, and we still could not meet the demand.

"We have met the enemy and he is us." - Walter Kelly's character, Pogo
@3 Of course we need to change consumer habits. I'm with you there. But here's what doesn't help: weak political leadership giving oil companies a free pass with little public process. If we're serious about transitioning to a renewable economy, we need politicians to demand change, too.
Agree with 3. Really growing tired of Ms. Brownstones articles on this subject.

The entire point of McGlade et al is that any additional resource development is likely to push us past 2 degrees. That includes arctic, unconventional and foreign assets. Assuming you block Shell from using the port, then they either find another port to base their arctic fleet or they don't. It is is unlikely that either outcome will significantly alter the amount of oil that they produce as that's going to be largely determined by the demand that we create for it. If demand remains strong, then they'll produce more, be it from the arctic, unconventional (fracking) or foreign. Any increase in the cost of getting that oil is unlikely to be significantly born by Shell as they know that increases in gasoline, airline tickets and transported goods are readily born by the consumer.

Like many today, your article seeks to lay the blame for climate change at the feet of corporations and elected officials. Unless you're never riding in a motorized vehicle, never consuming electricity nor ever purchasing manufactured goods, the blame is on you (and me). Trying to put it onto a corporation that is merely striving to feed our gluttonous appetite is cowardly.
Even if the Port Of Seattle withdraws this lease, Shell will still drill in the Arctic, the crude will still be extracted, shipped to a refinery (likely in Washington State) and still be burned.

Wouldn't a better strategy have been to lobby BSEE and BOEM to prevent oil drilling in the Beaufort Sea and the Chukchi Sea to begin with?

I worry that moving idled oil rigs to a different port (and if its further away requiring more fuel to be burned to tow them there) will simply put them "out of sight out of mind" for most people in Seattle and allow Seattleites to keep gassing their cars with no real thought of the true cost of the fuel they're using.

@4 - The port isn't giving oil companies a free pass. They are paying tens of millions to dock here. My advice would be to put your youthful exuberance into enjoying the world you live in today. There aren't enough people who care about global warming yet.
I agree with #3 were pretty much fucked regardless, even a massive consumer shift in USA will not stop global warming. What about Russia? What about the demand for resources from India & China? To say the future of life is at stake is wrong, the future of OUR lives as we know them in 2015 might be at stake, but life will go on with or without us. Global warming is mother nature telling us to fuck off, she will hit the restart on our asses and the next civilization to come to power in 10,000+ years will have to do better.
Not parking at harbor island will stop oil drilling? The naive simplicity of your argument would be adorable anywhere but a newspaper. The stranger needs to hire some reporters.
Agreed with other commenters.

First it's we hate the pipeline, which blocks the pipeline.

But that sends much more oil through trians which is a much risked way of transporting oil.

Now it's we hate trians and oil rigs. What affect is this going to have? Cause fighting the pipeline hasn't been a "win" for the climate, the oil is still being drilled and is now being transported in a much riskier way.

The biggest thing to reduce tar sand drilling this year was the Saudis dump cheap oil on the market.
Don't listen to the Trolls Sydney! They are probably being paid by the Heartland Institute. The gas & oil industry is at the heart of climate change and we need folks like you to keep calling them out and to help the keep the rest of us paying attention. We have to learn to say NO! Good work.
I totally agree with #3 and #7. Isn't it better to have the oil rigs in our port where we can get money out of them which we can use to lobby/work against arctic drilling, and where we have some oversight over the evils we choose to live with, than to push them out of our minds where we forget that they exist and we do not have any control whatsoever?

"Keep your friends close and your enemies closer" - some dude
Georgie @3 probably watches his neighbors empty their cars' motor oil into Georgetown storm drains, since if he takes action to stop them from doing so, they'll just go do it somewhere else.
I need an editor. Thanks to all who are getting the substance anyway.
@13:You're a smart guy so you know that is a false analogy, dumping oil into a storm drain is a crime and preventing someone from dumping oil into a storm drain prevents environmental damage.

Stopping Shell from docking drill rigs at terminal 5 does nothing to stop environmental damage, and if the rigs wind up being towed to a more distant port, will cause more fuel to be burned causing more environmental damage.

Stopping oil drilling in the Arctic, especially in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas is what needs to be done.

ending this lease in Seattle will effect Arctic oil drilling not even a little.
@3, 9, 10 - I'm a pretty somber fellow, but I have a hard time comprehending how myopic, cynical and misanthropic you have to be to subscribe to the "someone's going to consume that oil and fry the planet, it may as well be us" worldview. I sincerely hope none of you have children.
And thank you for your efforts, Sydney - it's a travesty how little attention gets paid to the Port (and port districts everywhere.)
@11, I think it's probably the local Discovery Institute, which is now in mourning as the private gym beneath them has moved, so they are no longer able to ogle the sweaty guys there!
We need to hold elected officials accountable when they promise things like sustainability and then cave to monied interests. Otherwise, we are abdicating our responsibility as citizens of Seattle and the planet and we will encourage even worse behavior in the future.

I believe I received an email when I complained about this when it happened and got an email reply from Courtney Gregoire stating that she had voted against letting Shell dock here.

It seems like the oil companies are using some of the $$ we are saving them to hire trolls.

Thanks for the article, Sydney.
Courtney trying to further her Mom's goal of leaving no fossil fuel untransported through Washington's ports.
@19, Who's fault is that? "We have met the enemy and he is us," applies equally to that phenomenon as well.
@21, It would be far more effective, if we did the same accountability check to ourselves by embracing battery operated cars (at higher cost, smaller size, and lower range), only multi-family housing, bought only electricity generated by solar panels (at 2.5 times the price of coal generated electricity), stopped buying goods from China, et. al.. If we did so, Shell and Embry (Coal producer) would be out of business in short order unless they shifted to providing other sources of energy. They aren't, because we don't. We want only the cheapest, most abundant energy sources (solar is abundant, but it ain't cheap).
@22: You do understand that this lease has nothing to do with transporting fossil fuels through any port what so ever, Right?

I just want to chime in to say that while I agree with the majority of the comments here that this is not a fight worth fighting I do still appreciate Ms. Brownstone's reporting on the issue.

I knew very little about how the Port operates and now I know a bit more. I came to a different conclusion about these oil rig leases but I am now more informed and this is an important issue.

Learn more.

This Documentary is a bit dated (2005) but still well worth the hour it takes to watch

Jordan Royer explains it all away over at Crosscut.
@28: The Crosscut article is good, and has the added benefit of a good picture of the S.S. Lurline.
@3) Ahh the ever-popular "do nothing because you can't do everything!" argument. Perfectly useful (and circular) for the lazy, crotchety set - especially when no logic serves them.

You are left behind, you do know that don'y you?
@ 27: The salaries of Stranger reporters is irrelevant to this discussion. While you brought up some good points earlier regarding consumption habitats, aren't you also saying you're okay with the Port of Seattle pushing through a hushed-up deal with Shell? Not a problem for you? I applaud Brownstone's efforts to publicize what the Port is doing... Changing consumption patterns is important, but so is making sure our government is transparent and accountable.
@31. They proceeded with the deal the same way they proceed with other leases. The Port is a very large property owner dealing with large industrial customers. If those customers had their leases subject to long public process, with an uncertain outcome, they would look elsewhere. We would be at an extreme disadvantage with other Ports, on top of the other disadvantages we already suffer. The port actually varied from their procedure, at Gregoire's request, in even discussing the lease at a Commission meeting at all.
Latest Keystone argument suggests global trade its main purpose: Alberta tar sands produces low-grade shipping fuel.
Latest best Keystone argument:
If we're going to build pipe, built it half the distance through less sensitive habitat through Omaha to Dakota Bakkan fields; reduces hazards of rail transport and terminal operation; reduces demand for off-shore drilling in the Gulf while reaching world market, creating jobs in safety upgrades to existing domestic petro facilities whose fuels there find more domestic, one might say 'patriotic' uses, but this is Texas afterall, home of the hothead oil man and his idiot brother.

Kill Keystone, kill insanely excessive global trade.
Build Keystone to Dakota. Tell Warren Buffett to suck it.
@32) "they would look elsewhere". Where exactly? All of the Port's huge local competitors that don't exist?
You seem to just argue whatever with no real point, except that maybe you are against something that someone else might have published somewhere.
@34: The Port Of Seattle does indeed have competition, but I doubt that the loss of this lease would cause any port tenants, or potential tenants, for that matter will abandon the Port of Seattle.

However like I wrote above, this lease will affect oil drilling in the Arctic not at all, and a far better strategy would be file suit against the BSEE and the BOEM over the final rules for offshore Arctic drilling, hoping to ban or at least raise the cost (so as to make it unprofitable) to drill in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.
@32: "They proceeded with the deal the same way they proceed with other leases." And that's an argument against being transparent in their business dealings? Plain and simple, this is a taxpayer-funded agency, and we should know what they're doing. If the bulk of Seattle taxpayers are against our port working with Shell in their efforts to drill in the Artic (I assume this is true), then that should be reflected in the Port's actions and policies. The port commissioners shouldn't be secretive about that process, whether or not that's how they "proceed with other leases".
@35: But wouldn't refusing to work with Shell on this also prove unprofitable (for them)? I'm all for filing suits if that's a useful tactic, but that doesn't mean we should roll over for Shell in our own port. The problems associated with energy consumption, climate change, arctic drilling, etc. are too big to discount any efforts, whether they be at the personal, community, or local government scale.
@37: No it wouldn't, Foss would simply lease a terminal in a different port, keep in mind Shell (and Foss) are paying millions of dollars to lease terminal 5, and keep in mind Shell and Foss aren't the ones paying to defend this suit, the Port of Seattle is and they'll likely win, and even if by some remote chance the don't, they could still lease space to Shell, and as I said if they don't don't some other port will.

But by preventing drilling in the first place, we protect the Beaufort and the Chukchi, worthy goals in their own right.

They've been in court almost continuously since trying to kick this off. You don't think that there is a contingency plan for every major decision on this? If Shell isn't able to get into the Port of Seattle, I doubt it stops even a single year of drilling. If you want it stopped, file suit against the Feds. Anything else is just pissing into the wind.
Ugh, no one is saying don't do anything. but look at the xl pipeline, the protest have made things worse. The protest didn't slow down tar sand oil, it just made it transported in a much dangerous way.

You know what slowed down tar sand oil? Cheap Saudi oil. So if you actually care about global warming then you need to do something to slow down the consumption of oil. Period, full stop. every thing else is just a nuisance to the oil companies that they can work around. And those work arounds are usual WORSE for the environment, not better.
Sydney! oh my goodness, these poor corporations that you're talking about, they're just trying to make a living! Be nice! Also, great article, great effort. I'm not sure how folks are missing the glaring connection here between the Port, Shell, and drilling in the Arctic. Everyone needs to do their part where they can. This is an issue that Seattle folks can take on, among many other fossil fuel projects. We have to fight all the snakey heads of the fossil fuel Medusa wherever they pop up.
Thanks for your writing this article. It does matter what Seattle does. We don't need to participate in this morally questionable drilling and development. Seattle can be a leader in its work at the Port, not just continue to add to the problem.
I'd suggest anyone commenting here read this article in the NYTimes that explains how incredibily difficult and risky Arctic drilling is. Is a disaster for the Arctic just waiting to happen. Expecially with the greed and negligence with which the oil companies operate and the poor oversight our government has over them. http://nytimes.com/2015/01/04/magazine/t…
News Flash
It's been 34 YEARS of debate and still not enough climate action achieved to SAVE THE PLANET from Human CO2?!

Not one CO2 scientist is willing to say they are not 'ALLOWED" to agree beyond their laughable 99% certainty; that the end is near.

34 MORE years without climate action is 100% certain and exaggerating vague science for decades to billions of innocent children is a war crime in the coming history books.
And get up to date;
*Occupywallstreet now does not even mention CO2 in its list of demands because of the bank-funded and corporate run carbon trading stock markets ruled by politicians.
@38, Merchant Seaman wrote, "Foss would simply lease a terminal in a different port"

That would not be the case if other communities refused to do business with Shell.

The argument people seem to be making is that because they suspect that others will not take a principled stance, Seattle should not do so, but instead go ahead and assist with Arctic drilling.
For petesake yes, pay attention to the port because it's mostly run for the convenience of big money out-of-state corporate special interests. We need to take our ports back.
Meanwhile, to slow global warming, the governor has a better idea (carbon tax) and even the stinking Republicans want to raise the gas tax a little. (regressive) They aren't drilling when they have their equipment parked here. Thanks for drawing attention to the port.
@46 "We need to take our ports back."

What do we plan to do with them when we get them back?
Right, 42; Part of putting big oil out of business is refusing to accept the legitimacy of their endeavors. Drilling in the Arctic is suicidally stupid, morally indefensible, economically absurd; the Port should have nothing to do with such a project. If we want a semi-functional planetary ecosystem - that's as much as we can hope for at this point -- we need to leave the oil (coal too) in the ground. Our elected leaders need to hear about this every day until they get it.
@merchant seaman, Yes of course shell and foss could try another port if we said no... But our hope is other ports and their local communities would try to stop them too. Kinda like union solidarity...
Keep going Sydney. The trolls don't understand economics or business decision making.
What does it benefit Seattle to gain $20,000,000 if it loses its soul?
@11 don't stand so: Agreed! Thank you, Sydney, for bringing the atrocity of corporate greed to public light, and keep up the good work! The trolls posting are shamefully ignorant.
trolls live in drill holes and only care about their immediate needs. Do not expect them to come from any point of view but the dominant, fatalist, unregulated capitlalistic, "money is what matters" paradigm. The only way to get through to sociopaths is to show them how they are hurting themselves. .Fossil Fuels used to work, they don't anymore, time to change and change fast folks. Get over it, time to heal the earth and it's people, We can do it right this time.
Wow. Trolls this, and trolls that. Have people forgotten (or have some ever known) what a troll is? It's someone who deliberately provokes people, usually with self-amusing personal attacks, rather than discussing the topic at hand.

Fortunately, I don't see any trolls in this comment string. I just see two sides of a relatively civil comment-string debate. Oh, and one outlying climate change denier.
I wanted to agree with the side against hosting the rig, but they seem to be losing this argument—eventually turning to near-trollish tactics by falsely accusing their opponents of trolling. I'm glad they at least pointed out the absurdity of "why should I stand against something when someone else might not?"

This rig can be ousted while suits are filed or any other action is taken; its not an either/or scenario. But some very non-trolls here have made some very reasonable arguments for focussing efforts and attention elsewhere.

I know where I stand on arctic drilling, but the insignificance and uncertainty to either side of this particular issue leave me to observe from my comfy seat atop the fence. Looks to me like only a symbolic victory against this thing is possible, and at least the city gave us a small one.