Today, a broad coalition of nine national and state environmental organizations called on the Port of Seattle to reconsider its recently announced plan to lease Terminal 5 to Foss Maritime as the home port of Shell’s Arctic oil drilling operation. Citing both significant environmental impact and lack of public process, the Coalition is calling on the Port to halt the lease, and to allow a full vetting and public process. They are urging the Port to find a new tenant that creates high-quality, sustainable jobs that reflect our community’s values, thus ensuring a strong economic future for the Port and our region. “Our region and the Port’s economic future is not in an oily hole at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. We envision a Port where business, labor, and environmental interests can work together to build sustainable, broadly shared prosperity,” said KC Golden, Policy Director at Climate Solutions and 350.org Interim Board Director.
The newly-formed Coalition was created to respond to the January 13 Port Commission’s go-ahead to lease Terminal 5 for up to four years as the new home of Shell’s Arctic exploratory and drilling fleet. The Coalition is asking the five-member Commission to halt the lease to allow for a full public review. At last week’s meeting, two of the Commissioners (Albro and Gregoire) called unsuccessfully to delay the lease. “All we need is one more Commissioner to vote for a public process to prevent the Port from proceeding with this terrible decision,” said attorney Peter Goldman.
Leaders of the Coalition cite numerous compelling policy arguments why the Port should decline the lease to Shell Oil:
- The lease flies in the face of the Port’s adopted policy of being a sustainable and green generator of economic development.
- The lease will make Shell’s quest to drill in the Arctic more economically viable by providing Shell with a short and possibly long-term warm-water port near Alaska; the only alternative for Shell is operationally difficult and expensive Dutch Harbor, Alaska.
- The lease could delay the Port’s proposed modernization of Terminal 5 to accommodate large container vessels; the Port, moreover, has not specified the number of local jobs that will be created, as opposed to Shell employees flown in from elsewhere to work on its Arctic fleet.
- The lease will jeopardize the Port’s ability to develop a long-term relationship with Seattle and the region—a strong regional relationship that is necessary to provide infrastructure, zoning protection, and freight access to enable efficient Port operations.
- The lease could lead to activities, such as boat-yard activities, that are different from the container operations.
Today, on behalf of the Coalition, Earthjustice attorney Patti Goldman sent a letter to the Port Commissioners asking them to reconsider their decision and to undertake a full environmental review of the lease.