Greenpeace US activists have abseiled off a bridge to form an aerial barrier to block Shell’s Arctic icebreaking vessel, the MSV Fennica, as it attempts to leave Portland, Oregon. The climbers are currently preventing the ship from passing underneath the bridge on its way to meet Shell’s drilling fleet.
Of the 26 climbers, 13 are suspended off the bridge with the others providing assistance.
According to the latest federal permit, the Fennica must be at Shell’s drill site before Shell can reapply for federal approval to drill deep enough for oil in the Chukchi Sea.
The climbers have displayed individual banners that say “#ShellNo”, “Save the Arctic,” and “President Obama, Last Chance to Say #ShellNo
Annie Leonard, the Executive Director of Greenpeace US, said, “Every second we stop Shell counts. The brave climbers here in Portland are now what stand between Shell and Arctic oil. This is President Obama’s last chance to wake up and realize the disaster that could happen on his watch. There is still time for our President to cancel Shell’s lease to drill in the Arctic, living up to the climate leader we know he can be. Shell has ignored the world’s best scientists, as well as millions of people around the world, who have all said repeatedly that the melting Arctic is a dire warning, not an invitation.”
In May, the Obama administration approved Shell’s plan to drill for oil in the Chukchi Sea in the Alaskan Arctic. Since that approval, both Shell’s rigs, the Polar Pioneer and the Noble Discoverer have failed routine inspections.
“Greenpeace prioritizes safety above all else and rappelling from a bridge is a walk in the park compared to the risks that we’ll face if we continue the climate change trajectory we’re on now,” Leonard said.
The Shell-contracted ice-breaker Fennica has been in Portland for repairs to a meter-long gash in its hull after it was damaged off the coast of Dutch Harbor, Alaska. The Obama administration released a decision last week requiring the Fennica and its capping stack, a critical piece of equipment for Shell’s drilling fleet, to be fully repaired and on the drill site before the company can drill deep enough for oil. Shell must also reapply to federal regulators for specific drill permits.
These 26 climbers are part of a global movement that has sprung up to keep Shell out of the Arctic Shell’s has faced widespread opposition to drilling in the Arctic from the Pacific Northwest of the US to Alaska. In June, activists in kayaks formed a blockade around Shell’s drilling rig the 40,000 ton Polar Pioneer as it left Seattle en route to Alaska.
Greenpeace is calling on President Obama and the US Department of the Interior to rescind Shell’s Arctic drilling lease.