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Superior Court Calls for a Complete Record in Seattle Challenge to Shell’s Arctic Drilling Homeport

Port of Seattle excluded important records to present itself and Shell in a favorable light

On Friday, March 20, 2015 Judge Spearman announced her decision on the Port of Seattle case jurisdiction.

Mark Payne / Shutterstock
June 23, 2015
Seattle, WA —

Seattle groups challenging the Port of Seattle’s lack of public process and refusal to conduct an environmental review in the decision to make Seattle Shell’s Arctic drilling homeport won another challenge today—the ability to have the full record before the court, including public Port Commission meetings, terminal usage plans and past environmental reviews.

The court ordered that information, largely secured through public records requests, will be used for a July 31 hearing.

The Port provided the court with only part of the story—arguing that the lease called the new use a “cargo terminal” and that the court should ignore the months of discussions and documents about the homeport use. It excluded even documents relied on by the court in March when the court allowed the case to proceed. Earlier this month, Earthjustice filed a motion in King County Superior Court to include in the record what the Port knew about the homeport use. The Port and Foss opposed that motion, seeking to limit the evidence before the court to what supports their position in the litigation.  

That motion was granted today as the court found, “that the full record in this case includes the Port’s submissions to the Court on June 2, 2015 and all documents attached to the declaration of Matthew R. Baca.”

Statement from Earthjustice Managing Attorney Patti Goldman:

“The Port has been aiding in Shell’s race to drill in the Arctic by circumventing public process, dragging its feet and holding this case up with delays while continuously disregarding the law. Telling only half of the story doesn’t make it true, and we’re grateful that we can now move forward and have this case heard on its merits based on the full record,” said Managing Attorney Patti Goldman of Earthjustice, a non-profit environmental law firm representing Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, Sierra Club, Washington Environmental Council and Seattle Audubon Society.

BACKGROUND

The coalition is asking that the court vacate the lease to house Shell’s Arctic fleet in Seattle, based on violations of the State Environmental Policy Act. The lease converted Terminal 5, which had long been a container terminal, into a homeport, yet the Port is asserting the two uses are the same in order to claim an exemption from environmental review. The Earthjustice lawsuit challenges the exemption. The court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case on July 31.

Read the decision.