Seattle organizers plan day of civil disobedience against Shell's presence in the city. Shell plans send drillships from Seattle to arctic waters off the coast of Alaska. Photo courtesy of Emily Johnston/350 Seattle
SEATTLE, May 18 (UPI) -- Energy company Royal Dutch Shell picked the wrong city to serve as a base of operations for its offshore Alaska program, advocacy groups said Monday.
A flotilla of kayakers took to the waters off the coast of Seattle during the weekend to protest the presence of Shell drillships bound for the Chukchi Sea off the coast of Alaska. With federal approval in hand, Shell said it may start its drilling campaign as early as this summer.
Matt Maiorana, a Seattle campaigner for advocacy group Oil Change International, said the western U.S. city wants to wash its hands of Shell's arctic ambitions.
"Shell has found themselves at the heart of a community that will not be complicit in opening up the Arctic to reckless fossil fuel companies, and they will do everything in their power to stop it," he said in a statement.
Seattle port officials said Shell would have to wait to dock its drillships until all necessary permits are in place, though the company said it has the authority to move forward. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said he hoped the company would "respect the wishes" of the community and not bring the rigs into area waters.
Seattle city councilwoman Kshama Sawant is among those signing a petition against Shell operations in Seattle. Organizers said more acts of civil disobedience are planned Monday at port facilities.
Emily Johnston, a spokeswoman for advocacy group 350 Seattle, said Shell is moving forward despite mounting evidence about the risks of drilling in arctic waters.
"By gathering together and shining a bright light on their plans, we can refuse to provide the distraction and hopelessness they require as a context for their disastrous business," she said in an emailed statement.
Shell's multibillion-dollar campaign for Alaska was hit by various equipment setbacks in 2012. In a statement on its website, the company said it has a commitment to protect the environment.