Can a Flotilla of Kayaks Block Shell's Arctic Drilling Rigs in Seattle?

The Success of These Grassroots Activists Depends on Numbers—And Not Getting Caught in Shell's Wake


Shell is one of the most environmentally friendly corporations in the world.

I highly suspect the efforts of this "spontaneous demonstration of the People".

Who is funding it, and why?

Anyone interested in signing up for a flotilla training can visit and contribute what they would to the rental costs.

People are also welcome to bring their own kayaks.

Rise Up!
"Shell is one of the most environmentally friendly corporations in the world" - fucking troll

Never forget KEN SARO WIWA. Get educated.
These kayakers got their kayaks to water how?
With Shell oil supported vehicle.
Do shellno protesters hand carry their kayaks everywhere?
Are the kayaks made without any petroleum sourced from arctic?
hankb and georgeingeorgetown never touch plastic, so they're qualified to weigh in on the purity of each and every activist's lifestyle and judge them accordingly.
The point SaraJ, is that Shell, Exxon, BP, et. al. exist because we are unwilling to pay the increased cost for energy that isn't produced by burning a carbon molecule. Shell, et. al. exist because when two Kayaks are side by side and one costs $300 (made with petroleum products) and the other costs $600 because it was hand-crafted in a very labor intensive process out of wood frame and bark (and does not last as long, perform as well, etc.) we choose the $300 Kayaks to the point that the supplier of the $600 Kayak goes bankrupt. Exxon, et. al. exist because we are unwilling to carry them for hours to the water or to pay the increased cost, and suffer the limits on range from battery operated cars we could buy to carry them for us. Shell is drilling in the arctic because we won't pay the increased cost required for them to deliver energy from another source. So the protesters (and all of us) are the problem.

But rather than except accountability and change their consumer preferences and choices, protesters blame the company that caters to those choices for catering to them. Very odd indeed!
Please don't get yourselves killed for a purely symbolic protest. Keep your distance and do not physically block anything.
@8 - So, hippies are a bunch of silly hypocrites.

Golly, never heard that one before.
@9 is correct.
Nice kayaks. Does anyone know when and where the police auctions are held? I could use one or two of these up at my vacation cabin.
This is so silly. Stupid symbolic. Protesters, in order to be taken seriously, need to use no petroleum. . .and that includes their kayaks or cars to get them to Duwamish Head.

2nd: Puget Sound is a protected waterway with huge environmental regulations. No shipping or oil company can mess with these regs. And ships have gone in and out of Terminal Five for decades, including ships carrying lots of bunkers, chemicals and HAZMAT containers (and the APL China, after it almost sank). That said, Shell maintains a fleet of very safe ships that comply with all regs. within Puget Sound. This is a no brainer. Nothing can be dumped in the Sound. No corners can be cut. Any spill--of any size--has to be reported to Washington State Environmental Bureau, then USCG then EPA. Ships carrying HAZMATS and bunkers go in and out of Elliot Bay on a daily basis. Why not boycott all shipping and 1/4 of all the jobs in Seattle which rely on an active port?

The Port of Seattle has an obligation to lease a port that has been laying fallow. Shell is bringing money to the port and city. This is not a dirty deal done by Republicans behind closed doors; the port charter makes using the port a mission. Very shitty reporting there. Shell is not drilling in the Sound or bringing in tankers, but vessels which supply and support drilling efforts in Alaska. Shell is the one company with the technology to potentially do the job safely. Given the remote chance that the protesters were successful, Shell could use British Columbia as a base, which has far LESS environmental regs than the US part of Puget Sound. Choose your poison.

Finally, the protestors will be endangering their own lives by getting in the way of unlimited tonnage vessels. As a licensed deck officer, I can assure you that tugs will clear the way, and fire hoses will scatter these kayaks. And it won't look or be brutal. They will just scatter.

There are other ways to protest drilling in Alaska: Use no petroleum products.

This whole protest venture reeks of quixotic hypocrisy.
PS: IF the protestors really wanted to hit ships that do break rules and have been constantly fined for illegal dumping, they should start with the cruise ships. . .

I'm disappointed to see the Stranger comments section filled with shill's for Shell. What happened to this place?
Georgetowngeorge, I don't think you know anything about kayaks, or fossil fuel consumption, and I have serious doubts someone that dense actually lives in Georgetown.

My kayak is fiberglass. I keep it at a marina that I walk or bike to when I want to use it. I need no carbon to store or use it.

Plastic kayaks are not necessarily cheaper than wooden ones. You can get a make your own wooden kayak kit for a few hundred bucks, which is far cheaper than any plastic model. Ask any kayaker and they will tell you the wooden version is a far better craft than cheapo plastic. Also I know of no sensible person who would pilot a $300 prefabricated kayak (if that even existed. Kayaks start around $900.)

So now that we've established you have no idea what you're talking about...

Can we please put to bed this incredibly stupid argument that if you have ever used carbon in your life it is hypocritical to oppose arctic drilling? That is like arguimg that if you've ever bought a t-shirt at H&M then you can't be opposed to child labor.

No one, not even Al Gore, is a total carbon ascetic. We we are all in our own way contributing to climate change, however, some of us have enough of a moral sensibility to realize we have to change. That change will not be facilitated by individual lifestyle changes. Even for the most committed non-carbon user, it is basically impossible to avoid fossil fuels completely because of urban planning (try walking everywhere if you live in a suburb) and oil companies monopolizing transportation and industry. The whole point is we need to change how our society functions and yes I am going to end up using carbon products because I have no damn choice.

Just about every climate scientist on the planet has told is we need to leave Arctic oil in the ground to avoid catastrophic global warming that will basically render Puget Sound uninhabitable for many if not most species there today. Are the kayak-naysayers really willing to just sit by and gawk at protesters "who drive a car sometimes"? It is such an incredibly infantile argument. Excuse me while I get my kayak and go do something about this crisis (admittedly symbolic but at least something) while those in favor of salmon extinction sit by and do nothing.
I'm disappointed to see this board filled with a bunch of shills for Shell. What happened to this place?

1) Saying protesters should have no say because they use petroleum products is ridiculous. It's like saying no one who eats vegetables should be able to hold an opinion about how their vegetables are grown. I for one use plenty of petroleum, but I am totally opposed to Arctic drilling. The arctic is not our only option for oil or energy.

2) Our federal and local government has failed us again and again when it comes to addressing climate change. This is obvious and real. Whether or not the protests can stop the ship, I'm coming to believe that the last option we have to effect anything is locally. We may not have power to address the global petroleum industry, but we can at least try to influence what happens in Seattle.
Mepriser666, your naiveté is astounding...

The Washington State Environmental Bureau? The EPA? The COAST GUARD? You seriously expect these meak, underfunded and undermined "regulation" agencies to actually police one of the largest corporations in the world? A corporation that has racked up dozens of violations (including intentionally dumping water mixed with oil in the ocean). Shell has proven over and over again that it doesn't care at all about environmental regulations and can afford to pay whatever fine meted out against them without even noticing the loss in their books.

Furthermore, the Port was NOT transparent in this process. That is why the Stranger has been so aggressively covering this issue. Bill Bryant and his cronies tried to sneak this deal past the public with very little notice and practically no comment period because they KNEW the reaction would be negative (because this is a terrible, terrible deal).

"Protesters, in order to be taken seriously, need to use no petroleum."

Let's unpack this statement, which I keep hearing over and over again as basically the only point the counter-protesters can muster.

What would it really mean to "use no petroleum"? It would mean not ever driving a car, not ever riding a gas-fueled bus (over 90% of buses) or car or boat or basically anything outside a horse-and-buggy. You would not be able to wear shoes, which usually have plastic in them, or drink bottled water (you shouldn't ever do this anyway...) or pepsi or anything really. No chinese take-out (plastic containers), no doggy-bags basically ever. No heating your house or using electricity for basically anything, no internet! It would mean never taking an ambulance ride in an emergency, never getting an IV or a flu shot (gas, plastic and more plastic).

Basically what the commenter is saying is that the only people who can truly criticize Arctic drilling are those who live in a cave or crude shelter under Stone Age conditions.

To which I am sure the myopic pro-oil shills will reply: "Exactly! We NEED oil, so we NEED to drill in the Arctic so we can get MORE oil! Stupid protesters."

But this is putting the cart before the horse. The very point of protesting drilling is to highlight the fact that we need as a society to collectively divest ourselves of fossil fuels. That is currently impossible for an individual because of the systemic ways in which carbon has become overused (and thus "essential") in our economy.

The reality is we do not need very much carbon to live in a modern society. There are other energy sources available. There are also perfectly good substitutes for carbon-derived products such as bio-plastics we could be using instead. The problem is that over the last 100 years, industry and government have conspired to create a totally carbon-dependent society. Ford bought up the electric trolley lines and ripped them up for car-based transport. The technology for an electric car has been around for over 100 years and has been killed over and over again by the oil and car industries. We as consumers have very few choices when it comes to living carbon-neutral lives. It is basically impossible because of how our cities are designed and what industry produces.

There is, incidentally, a very big difference between consuming fossil fuel to emit carbon (which contributes to global warming) and producing carbon-derived products like plastics (which have their own issues but are not pollutants in the air).

I personally do not own or drive a car. I walk or bike or bus wherever I go because I live in an urban area where that is possible. Fortunately I can kayak "guilt-free" because I don't generally need to drive anywhere. However, I don't begrudge my fellow northwesterners who do drive because that is basically the only way to get around in many instances and we shouldn't fault the consumers who are constrained by the system against their own beliefs. That is precisely the point. That is why we must protest, for a better world that isn't headed full-steam for a climate change cataclysm. As the Port of Seattle slogan says: "where a sustainable future is headed." Who are the real hypocrites here?

Hermitcrab, are you really surprised internet comment sections are dominated by right-wing idiot patrols? Ken Mehlman personally gave each pro-Shell commenter a nice silver Reagan dollar for their trouble.
Not even Al Gore is a total carbon ascetic? No shit. If my math is correct If everyone on earth consumed like that hypocritical bastard we'd need roughly 20 gazillion planets.
@zarathustra Not on the internet but at The Stranger, yes.

And well said.
I don't have any problem using gasoline or oil products and still wanting to prevent arctic drilling. In fact I think if the price of oil went up significantly it would help the market naturally extend the world oil supply as we transitioned to renewable sources of energy. Keeping gas cheap is not worth ruining the arctic.

Long answer just got eaten by cyberspace. No patience to abridge or retype. . .but I will say that you make a lot of unfounded assertions and know virtually NOTHING about the environmental regs. that ships face within Puget Sound or the history of environmental regs. within maritime over the last generation. Or who the biggest polluters are, i.e. cruise ships and the military.

Aggressive reporting by The Stranger? Please! The Stranger is an anti-union (aside from minimum wage laws), anti-industry rag that caters to denizens of one neighborhood in King County who happen to be on a good bus line. It has never acknowledged that Port of Seattle is responsible for 1/4 of the jobs in Seattle. Beyond social issue ranting, The Stranger is worthless.

That said, let's talk social issues: So you and the protestors are generally saying that the Port of Seattle can pick and choose who to do business with. . .much the way some opprobrious red states want to pick and choose who to serve a wedding cake? Remember, Port of Seattle charter is designed to rent Terminal 5 to a paying tenant, not to pick and choose a tenant that everyone in Seattle can feel warm and fuzzy about.

That said, Shell Oil is breaking no law in renting a port facility and complying with existing regs. Nor were they asking to skirt environmental regs. for Puget Sound or to rewrite them. Regs. that remain the strictest in the nation.

A bit of advice: Watch your tone! Your palaver is every bit as offensive as the maritime sites chuckling about killing the "hippy treehuggers." And this comes from a lifelong Liberal, cyclist who never owned a car before age 35 (when living in Seattle brought me to tears because I needed to get one to survive). . . and who happens to work in maritime (and lives in fear of any sort of spill).

This protest is a diversion away from Seattle building in an unsustainable manner and departing from its blue-collar, industrial roots. The protest will just create a needless headache for ships officers. Tugs will scatter the kayaks with fire hoses. The only potential losers here are the protestors, who could end up in the drink or in jail or both. And if you think they will be seen as martyrs, you are wrong. Crossing an unlimited tonnage vessel or playing in a shipping lane is just stupid.

FYI: I fucking hate Reagan. Your silver dollar assertion or the assertion that I shill for Shell is duly noted. I will chuckle and buy your kayak at a police auction one day.

The point is not that environmental regulations do not exist, it's that they are consistently ignored by extraction companies like Shell and in Shell's case in particular there is a long and dubious track record of violating many such laws.

Just to name a few recent examples:

Shell to pay $1.1 million in fines for Arctic air-quality violations:…

Eight felony counts, $12 million fines for Shell’s Arctic drilling contractor:…

Shell agrees $84m deal over Niger Delta oil spill:

Shell, Eni Making No Progress on Nigeria Oil Spills:…

I would encourage you to check out that last link. The story comes from Bloomberg News, no liberal rag mind you, and it describes the scale of the oil spill as a "national disaster." I could site more examples. It is ridiculously easy to research Shell's many environmental violations because there have been so many of them. And as far as mitigation? Their containment bubble imploded on itself in Puget Sound.

I think if you look at Shell's record, there is no doubt they take excessive risks with environmental concerns because there is much profit to be made for Shell and little in the way of consequences. Yes the regulations are "enforced," but what is a $12 million fine or even a $12 billion fine going to mean for a company that consistently rakes in between $3-5 billion every fiscal quarter in profits? You are talking about a company with more wealth than most nations. To them, the fines are acceptable losses. They more than make up for the fines with more reckless drilling practices.

This is an not an environmentalist's fantasy. Shell is hands-down one of the worst corporations for environmental safety. Last year their drilling rig ran aground, they dumped "gray water" and diluted oil into the ocean, they fucked up the Niger delta perhaps permanently, and on and on. That is criminal negligence in my mind. I am absolutely concerned they will be just as negligent while at Pier 5 and so should you if you care about the Sound.

But this is not just about Puget Sound. This is not just NIMBY. This is about what they will do once they get to the Arctic. The Arctic is a uniquely vulnerable place for extraction. It is the summer grounds for so many birds and marine mammals that an oil spill would be incredibly devastating not just to the Arctic but to the ecosystems these animals inhabit in other seasons. It could devastate fish stocks and trigger ecological collapses in the Bering Sea, as has happened in the Gulf of Mexico since the Deepwater Horizon disaster (what short memories we have). And let's not forget that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management found a 75% chance of at least one oil spill during Shell's lease.


Is that really an acceptable risk? And for what? A few hundred port jobs? I think the longshoreman will be just fine without the Foss Maritime lease. I simply don't buy this notion that the Port of Seattle cannot turn away any lease holders because their job is to be a working port. That is simply ludicrous. The Port is a public corporation, it holds its property and leasing authority on behalf of the citizens of Seattle, and if the Port of Seattle actually represented the views of Seattle, there is no way we would let a criminal enterprise like Shell use our facilities. Anyway, the Port might have been able to defuse the situation had they actually had a public process, but they sneakily tried to dupe the public by rushing the process and it blew up in their faces (THAT'S what you get when you mess with the Seattle Process!).

Finally, there is the little matter of climate change. I wonder if you accept the consensus position of 98.6% of climate scientists that anthropogenic climate change is being caused by human fossil fuel emissions. If so, what do you suggest we do about this incredibly important problem? Climate scientists are telling us that drilling in the Arctic pretty much guarantees an above two degrees Celsius warming scenario by 2100 (the "tipping point"). After that, kiss the ocean ecosystem goodbye. Oh and everything that depends on it. What do you tell the people of Vanuatu who's nation will be underwater by mid-century? If we don't stand up to drilling, aren't we complicit in this mass genocide of planetary life? Honestly, I don't see how we can support this operation and still call ourselves morally responsible citizens.

No one is saying leases should be handed out on an ad hoc basis but this is simply a different situation. Shell has proven they will ignore and continue to violate environmental regulations and pay little cost for doing so. This is a criminal cartel we are talking about, a repeat felon offender, a psychopathic corporation with no moral compass or restraint. People have died because of Shell's malfeasance, to say nothing of the harm they've reaped on the oceans already. There is ample precedent for public divestiture of such organizations. South Africa under apartheid was effectively embargoed by hundreds of public institutions on the very reasonable grounds that public agencies should not be subsidizing harmful governments or corporations.

Yes it is a "symbolic" move. But symbols have a way of becoming very tangibly powerful if used correctly. So they would go elsewhere if not Seattle. Well, where? No where else is really as ideally suited for their summer drilling fleet except here, which is where they chose. If they were forced to leave, yes they would go somewhere else, but it would be at a cost for Shell. It would also be a PR disaster that would shed some very needed publicity on the harm Shell causes and the reaction of ordinary citizens against it. We can collectively send a very powerful message to Shell that we don't want their blood and oil-stained money and they're not welcome 'round these parts no more, etc.

If you think my tone is flippant, you might consider dismissing protesters as misguided morons as a bit flippant as well, especially the incredibly uninteresting point that people who use plastic or oil are "hypocrites" for protesting Shell. It is perfectly possible to be in favor of using some oil in society but not continuing to expand drilling to a vulnerable and pristine wilderness. There are so many reasons why it is a bad idea to host an Arctic drilling fleet in Seattle. I have no illusions about actually stopping the fleet (and if you read the group's mission statement, they are merely going to "escort" the ships in), but I think it is realistic that this cause bring some bad PR to Shell and the Port, and at the very least expose Bill Bryant for the Romney-esque backroom-dealing oil industry flunky that he is.

You'll forgive me if I laugh off the idea of tug boats hosing off a kayak blockade (with possible elderly people and children present). I think hosing down protesters went out of style after the 1960's because it looks kind of "jim crow-y" (and no, I am not comparing Shell protesters to the Civil Rights movement, fyi). Anyway I would welcome a fresh-water bath. I can roll and rescue myself from a kayak so I doubt a hose would actually be much of a threat. What it would do is cause more inexperienced kayakers to capsize leaving floating kayakers bobbing in the water. Not exactly an effective way of clearing people out but we'll see what they come up with!

And by the way if you're serious about denying leases to cruise ships I am 100 PERCENT with you on that one. I live downtown and I think we should hire some centenarian Germans to re-enact the sinking of the Lusitania.
shell and the fossil fuel industry is a sickening disease of death and destruction for planet Earth and its inhabitants, and you can include monsanto too
A study carried out by a team of researchers at Virginia Tech, funded by Shell Oil, has found a way to efficiently create zero-emissions hydrogen fuel by using the sugar stored in "stover", the stalks, cobs and husks left over from harvested maize.…

Shell Oil...they do more than kayaks to clean the air.
@16, Fiberglass Kayaks are made with resins that petroleum products. My point was people buy fiberglass ones rather than wood ones because of price, performance, and longevity issues; hence they are ubiquitously made by large manufactures and wood ones are not. Consumers prefer ones made from non-renewables, price points aside.

@18, you wrote (and @16 expressed similar sentiment) "The problem is that over the last 100 years, industry and government have conspired to create a totally carbon-dependent society." Therefore it isn't consumers fault. Kodak is out of business. Why? Kodak came up with digital technology but would not exploit it because their chemical film business worked and was profitable. What happened, venture capitalists financed alternative image making and preserving digital technology that is more convenient and cheaper. The VC's put in money because they new the customer demand was there. No more Kodak.

If consumers did the same thing with electric cars, purchasing solar panels (or power sourced exclusively from solar and wind), big oil would be out of business in short order however, consumers are unwilling to pay a high enough price premium for the VC's to get their investment back, let alone a return.

Apple created first the smart phone and then the tablet. VC's rushed to fund them because the consumer demand was there for $600 devices. The Newspaper and Newsmagazine business is disappearing as result.

The same thing is happening in cable and broadcast television as people cut the chord and go to any producer, anywhere for content.

So when consumers will pay, whole industries go out of business, and whole paradigms change.

What is different with fossil fuels, is the laws of physics make it very cheap to get energy from burning a carbon molecule. The laws of physics make it expensive to get it form the sun. Even with the dramatic fall in the price of solar panels the levelized cost of a unit of energy, according to the Obama Admin, not big oil, is five times as much. Wind is much closer but still not as cheap and people squawk and holler about having to look at them and you would have to cover something like 1/3 of the land mass in the country to supply our needs.

If we all buying cars from Elon Musk, big oil would be gone. But none of us are prepared to trade a house payment for a car payment, and the physics, in spite of his bottomless R & D and investment budget, don't allow him to build one for less than 4 times what the typical car out of Detroit that burns petroleum costs. Musk has not had his "Henry Ford" moment where he discovers how to bring a car to a price point for the masses. Not for lack of capital or smart people but because he can't overcome the laws of physics.

So the conspiracy theory is crap. We just aren't willing to pay what it would cost to get energy from non-fossil sources. Then we blame the people who supply the energy, at the price point we are willing to pay for the energy. Blame shift for our own choices. If I were a Shell or Exxon investor, I think I would want more than a 10% return for that playground-like blame shifting.
@georgeingeorgetown You keep saying that people "aren't willing to pay more" for energy from non-fossil sources. As if we have a choice? Is there a check box on your energy bill that allows you to pay extra for electricity produced from non-fossil sources? Cause there isn't on mine. Or did you mean we aren't willing to pay the cost to build self-powered off-the-grid houses? Cause that is an equally ridiculous accusation.
@28. Some utilities have the ability to buy only green sourced energy. They get something like 7% participation. 7%! Houses with full insulation, air-sealing, appliance replacement, and solar panels, even fewer as a percentage. People look at the cost and decide to keep eating out, buy newer cars, take vacations, etc. instead. Are some doing those things? Sure. In the macro-economic sense, is it being embraced to the same level as the smartphone as a must have, must do? Not even close. If it was, Shell, et. al. wouldn't be drilling in the arctic.
In 2013 when Shell went up to the Arctic to prove their competence at drilling offshore, they clearly demonstrated they were not up to the task by grounding a rig on Kodiak and relying on the Coast Guard to rescue them. So, another fantastic example of privatized profits and publicized risk, which seems to have been forgotten.…
Go deep. And who rescues you when you get lost in the woods or your boat goes aground. Privatized recreational enjoyment and publicized rescue.
First, a few factual issues here. The ship will probably not dock at all in Port Angeles. This is because Puget Sound Pilots can embark onto a vessel at sea from a small pilot boat. Every ship which enters Puget Sound has to have a qualified local pilot, and this ship is no different. Port Angeles is simply where this happens. It happens while the ship is underway, not in port.

Second, it is likely that the US Coast Guard will make arrests there, at the area where this authority transfer occurs. It would make sense for the Coast Guard to then escort the vessel all the way to Seattle. That means between 4 and 6 25-foot boats full of what are basically Coast Guard SWAT teams. Each of these boats has two 225 horsepower Honda outboards. They can outflank a kayak unless the kayak is rocket powered. Don't ride a rocket powered kayak, you are not a coyote named Wiley.

The Posse Comitatus laws (18 U.S.C. § 1385) do not apply to the US Coast Guard, even though that is essentially a branch of the military. So if they want to attend the trainings for this flotilla, they will. And likely have. If you want a secret plan, don't invite the public to make your plan.

Past demonstrations in Seattle have been intercepted by the Coast Guard before they could get underway, even when the activists were technically on the water. They won't wait for you to place yourself in harms way, they will prevent it. They don't care about your rights in doing so, and suing them is going to be difficult. Be careful and google Glen Milner - he's been through this before. The Administrative fines he faced were daunting, and he never even got out to do his action.

Sydney Brownstone,

Your April 8th article re "....a Flotilla of Kayaks....." is a superb piece of investigative journalism. Your research was presented in a compelling manner. It includes all the factors of a good thriller.

There is a powerful, bad guy who has a track record of causing major environmental disasters in the water and on the land. There are elected guardians of major waterways, who secretly facilitated access for the bad guys to damage those waterways. They seem unaware that their action is a contradicts their role as stewards of the environment. And, there is an interesting bunch of good guys determined to protect the environment .

Reading your article, we the readers are left in suspense. How will this story end? However, there are indications of the clear possibility that this is a winnable issue by the good guys. Sydney, keep up the good writing!

Sincerely, A Grandmother of Three who is hopeful that here will be a happy ending to this story.

PS I won't be in a kayak when the Shell rigs arrive; however, our big, colorful fish on poles will be there (on the land). Working with 350Seattle last weekend, we constructed and painted a school of big fish on foam board (with lots of help). They were carried (separately) on poles during last weekend's Walk to the Foss Terminal. This weekend, we plan to paint the other side of the fish, to be carried during future demonstrations.
Idiocy of the protests aside...where are the counter-protests? Our Union Brothers proclaim "An Injury to One is an Injury to All," and the intent of these enviro-extremists is to force the Port to cancel a contract worth millions, that provides for an upgrade to keep the port competitive. There are union jobs at stake in all three phases of this project, many good paying maritime, construction, and terminal jobs. Lets put some of our socially aware/labor friendly politicians to the test...what matters more, a gesture to the environmentally inevitable, or protecting the union jobs of people who helped elect opportunistic spotlight grabbers like Shwarma Sandwich? Lets burn some carbon in a fleet of ILWU and IBU member boats protecting our waterway AND the jobs of our Brothers and Sisters!!!! I'm betting some good wakes from my fishing boat and those of others could make this "wall of kayaks" into a whiny, pathetic joke. Wake On Dudes!
@34 If the Stranger community eventually gets its way, Seattle's industrial jobs will disappear and the only employment available to its members will be waiting tables and pouring drinks for Microsofties and Amazonians. And perhaps grants for graffiti performance art.
@34 & 35. Right on!

I agree with almost everything you write, but do also think that you do not understand maritime fines and the accountability of licensed officers. No one in the industry wants to see any sort of spill or violation. And no one wants to get taken off a ship in cuffs.

That said, I really don't think that you understand that there is a greater chance of some sort of accident occurring with almost any other ship coming into or departing Elliot Bay on any given day. The foreign flag vessels that bunker in Terminal 18. The military at Bremerton, complete with subs armed with nukes.

All arguments about not liking Shell or pointing out that they are amoral aside, ships leased to Shell are, in all likelihood, safer than 98% of the ships that currently transit the Sound. And the bad PR that would result from any incident is impetus to insure those ships are safer than the foreign flag vessels in Elliot Bay daily.

Now, I don't like Shell any more than you; however, I do not buy your argument that the port of Seattle (need) represent the views of Seattle. What exactly are "Seattle views” by the way?

If I had my way, there would be no Starbucks on every street corner. Is that a Seattle view? Anti-corporate views are very liberal and Seattle-like. Why pick on Shell and not Starbucks, a company that invades neighborhoods and prices out the competition, often with nasty lease agreements? Nor any other corporation that is undercutting independent businesses, like I do not want Amazon, perhaps the most amoral corporation in the USA outside of energy, in South Lake Union; is that a “Seattle view”?. Nor do I want to subsidize the Seahawks and Mariners; is that a Seattle view? American corporations are—as a rule—opprobrious. So, to pick and choose Amazon and Starbucks over Shell Oil comes down to global warming, and—in that respect—we are already fucked. It's game over. So no, I am well aware of climate change and certainly not a denier. But, I am at a point in life where I despise all corporations; Coca Cola is no better than Shell. Nor is Apple. And if Seattle is greedy enough to let Amazon mess up Lake Union and to create high density neighborhoods in West Seattle and Ballard that will only make the city's need for autos grow. . .well fuck the whole city. The only “Seattle view” that I can glean from your post is a bias towards white collar and a lifestyle that allows for downtown living with no need for a car.

Yes, my argument concerning using no fossil fuels was weak. But the spirit is there. We are all hypocrites. I'm not going to shed a tear over Vanuatu when people have been displaced for millennia.

Aside from displacement of global populations, to which the US has been complicit for centuries (and my stomach turn over this, so I don't need your lecture), Seattle has some serious problems. A tunnel going nowhere that will devalue Ballard and West Seattle. Rampant development without any transportation infrastructure. Catering to crappy corporations like and Chase that make Seattle neighborhoods more and more generic and that turn local strips into Anywhere USA.

All that said, if the protesters wanted to actually protest Land Use Development plans putting up yet another crappy condo without garage space or decent bus service or petition for realistic public transportation considering the burgeoning density of the city, well then I'm all for it. But to endanger themselves and waste their energy on a done deal? That is just quixotic. And I called the protesters “quixotic hypocrites,” not “misguided morons” as you asserted. Quite simply, kayaking in front of an unlimited tonnage vessel is dumb. And the publicity to come out of it will not be favorable.

Let's make all that clear. I would love to see the younger generation get their nose out of their collective smartphones and actually make a difference in community. However, to pick and choose Shell as bad and Amazon as good doesn't quite cut it.

Yes, the Port of Seattle is obligated to lease the port as per charter. And the “views of Seattle” whatever the hell that might mean do not come into play so long as the tenant is obeying the laws of Puget Sound, which I and most people in the maritime industry feel is the case. Additionally—from what I have heard—to deny the lease to Shell opens the port up to all sorts of punitive lawsuits specifically because the Port of Seattle cannot just pick and choose it's tenants.
@3 & @21: Thank you both. I agree.
@17 Hermit Crab and @23 zarathrusta: Well said, both of you! Also agreed.
I'm sorry I missed your comments the first time through.

I think you actually have a very good point in bringing up cruise chips and container vessels. Every time I ride my bike on the west dumamish passage I see gasoline discharge on the water near the shore. Not huge quantities but enough make a nice rainbow slick on the surface. Personal pleasure craft leave petroleum discharges too. I hate how cavalier the maritime community in general appears to be about leaky engines and casual dumping. I don't think that would be an unworthy cause to pursue. I do think there is good reason to be suspicious of Shell because they have been convicted of illegal petrol discharges both into the air and into the ocean. Maritime regulations, however well framed and enforced, are simply not incentive enough for a mega-corporation like Shell, which can afford to pay pretty much any fine they are tendered without affecting their bottom line.

As much as I share your concern about spillage, that is not the real issue here. The first outrage is that Arctic drilling is perilous for the entire planet and local waterways will suffer as one of the many terrible consequences of climate change. Opening up new sources of oil at this point is simply suicide. We are just now beginning to feel the effects of anthropogenic warming and it has not been pleasant. Maybe this is a "fringe" opinion but I do believe allowing the people of Vanuatu or any other low lying nation (looking at you, Bangladesh) to be utterly displaced, condemned to refugee camps and scattered about the earth is tantamount to genocide. We are all causing this to happen and now a million minor tragedies are unfolding around the world. What kind of self-destructive lunacy is it to keep drinking the poison that's killing you? To permit Arctic drilling is like an advanced lung cancer patient continuing to smoke.

I think a lot of people are missing the point of the protest. This is not about "blockading" the drilling rig, really. This is about protesting the presence of a company that is an international felon hell-bent on extracting every last gallon of crude oil before humanity collectively wakes up and realizes that (like other oppressive industries such as slavery and human trafficking) oil extraction needs to be phased out, not increased, to forestall a full-scale climate emergency that would likely devastate Puget Sound, among other places. The USA used to have a very healthy protest ethic, especially this region, and protest movement has been used successfully to reform industry. Other countries understand how critical street protests are to let pols know people are paying attention, and nothing makes a politician suddenly wake up and smell the oil like intensely scrutinizing media coverage.

Protesting can be an effective tool to initiate political change. This story has already been picked up by the national media. If enough negative press is gained through protest action it may create enough public pressure to at the very least elect Port Commissioners who represent the views of their constituents and not just big business. It may make Dutch Royal Shell a bit more image-conscious and perhaps they will have to relocate the drilling fleet to a less ideal locale, all of which may slow the drilling.

The end game of course is to stop Arctic drilling completely. This is a reckless operation that would never be able to contain a spill in 75% likelihood that that happens. Ever layer of what Shell does is a fresh horror and they have left a wake of tragedy and devastation behind their drilling operations worldwide. This is a Jean-Luc Picard, "The line must be drawn HERE!" kind of a moment where we have to stop drilling and if Shell has the balls to bring their Armada of Death into our waters, then I sure as hell am going to make it known to then that they aren't welcome here. Kayaks may not win the battle of Terminal 5 but they may win the PR war and that is a potentially much more far reaching victory.
I am an environmental moron from the other side of the mountains. I will be coming by train, then sidling in close in my oil laden boots, no driving here. Any moron knows that wars are not fought only by sea. I don't have a kayak, but I do have morals, ethics, love for my kids and grandson. A very deep love of the earth. I don't need no stinking boat.
The armada of death financed by zarathrusta who won't walk everywhere or buy an electric car charged only with renewable energy.
Symbolic protest is symbolic. Do something that will actually stop drilling instead of wasting coast guard $$ saving you from this stunt.

You want to stop drilling? Get a million people to stop using oil.
@8, WORD!
Salute The BackBone Campaign and Bill Moyer!
I have a hard time forgetting about past oil catastrophic accidents. I would be ashamed to do so! New Orleans wasn't too long ago. How quickly we forget. We all use oil. We've used it in every faucet of the life we all live but that doesn't make it right. It's time to let it go. Shell knows that, if not more then anyone else. Yes, they are looking for alternative energies. While they are doing that they are still plowing through. It's seems that the kayakers response is in part because of the bull shit amount of time 'the people' had to participate in voicing their concerns. It's good that they aren't letting Shell get away with that.
What would the world look like with out oil? How would we live with out oil? Would we even live at all with out oil? I'd like to hear Shell answer these questions. We're all addicted to it. There are a lot of answers out there that are only privy to the oil industry and the feds. Answers that took time and research and that are paid for with tax dollars. It's time to start sharing these alternatives plans.
These people are courageous brave souls making a statement for what they believe in. They are choosing to stand up to a bigger power like Shell. I am thankful for them and I will tell my children about them. The people that are standing up for a healthier future. They are risking their lives. They deserve respect. They are worriers and soldiers. They are fighting a war that some don't care about or know about and won't until it's in their back yard. So interesting that it IS in you're back yard and many still don't care. Now that is silly. What will it take for them? The speculation isn't pretty. But for now I am proud to live in a community of strong, dedicated, intelligent courageous people who are acting on their beliefs. I thank them and will be sending them positive thoughts all week!
Do a carbon budget, an individual gets 5 tons/year., spend it wisely Get your consumption under control and then we can manipulate the fossil fuel industry to change. Remember Enron and deregulated energy ? They made millions by manipulating the market.. We have to cost the fossil fuel industry billions by manipulating the market while making demands. Rolling Blackouts on the fossil fuel industry. Shell anyone ? Exxon ? Be creative, yet ethical, peaceful, non viiolent means is what matters. I am going to sign up for my Shell Credit Card right now ! We must end coal ASAP, need controls on escape methane at all points of collection and distribution, we have some time on oil and gas but need to reduce use drastically at this time. We reduce gas use and Shell backs out of the Arctic while we get new technologies to solve the use of gas. It is going to happen but all must do a little sacrificing at this time. The sacrafice will not be forever.... and who needs all that plastic crap anyway ?
Staggering hypocrisy and endemic of "do as I say, not as I do."
Do the "kayaktivists" not realize that their kayaks are made from petroleum products? If you are going to protest the product, quit using the by-products! Do they walk everywhere they go? If they use ANY mode of transportation, they are using petroleum products. If they use deodorant, make-up, store leftovers, own a refrigerator, dishwasher, heck even their tennis shoes are all because of petroleum products. Get a grip people!