Mayor Murray and City Council are taking a stand against Shell.
Mayor Murray and the city council are taking a stand against Shell's plan to use Seattle as an Arctic drilling homeport. Kelly O

It's very, very rare that The Stranger gives Mayor Ed Murray an easy pat on the back for taking positions on stuff. But he deserves this one: Today, the mayor directed the Seattle Department of Planning and Development to investigate the Port of Seattle's decision to make Seattle the homeport for Shell's Arctic drilling fleet.

"Any project of this apparent significance to our industrial lands must go through the appropriate review," Murray said in a statement. "It's important that the public and surrounding businesses are informed of all the possible impacts of this lease—both economic and environmental—and that these impacts are sufficiently disclosed and evaluated. This is why I’m directing DPD to conduct a thorough review of the Terminal 5 proposal and determine if the anticipated activities at the terminal involving the Shell drilling fleet require new permits before it can proceed."

The decision shortcuts what city council member Mike O'Brien was trying to do with his letter from city hall to the DPD (that's the thing I mentioned earlier this morning). The mayor's directive, which says that all of the city council is on board, has become a joint initiative with the city council members. And it sends a pretty strong signal from the city, too, especially given the silence from "green" Governor Jay Inslee on the issue. A coalition of environmental groups is currently suing the port over the same proposal.

Hopefully, it's just a start. There's a lot more both the mayor and the city council can do to put pressure on the port—and the federal government—to keep Shell from pushing its Arctic drilling agenda through. (See our former mayor Mike McGinn's suggestion of writing to Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell here.)

(Why care? Read this.)