It recently came to light that the Port of Seattle has been working on a deal with Shell Oil to dock ships from their Arctic drilling fleet. The people of Seattle are not happy about it.
The ships in question are operated by companies with pretty poor records when it comes to taking care of the environment, and locals are justifiably concerned about their being docked there. In addition to the fact that the deal in question was shady, clandestine, and reeks of corporate interference in local politics, the ships could cause irreparable damage to Puget Sound.
Puget Sound is a fragile ecosystem, one which has seen it’s share of trouble in the past. As Seattle has become an increasingly green city, and one of the leaders in city-based response to climate change, that ecosystem has been carefully maintained. An oil spill could ruin everything and have terrible effects on the Sound and the entire Pacific Northwest.
And the Port of Seattle isn’t separate from the city, either, it’s exists right next to huge residential areas, and is visible from all over. Pollution released by ships at the Port would have an immediate effect on human, animal, and plant life in the region.
Luckily, the government of Seattle isn’t taking this lying down. They have already begun to investigate the deal, and the general sense is that it’s no good, and that the city won’t stand for it. Several environmental organizations have joined the fight as well, which is little surprise. In addition to the potential damage these ships could cause in Puget Sound, Arctic oil drilling is a no-win situation. It’s unlikely that it would ever be worth it for companies to drill for oil there, and according to recent studies, the Arctic oil reserves in Alaska are essential to fighting global warming. Tapping those reserves could have serious effects on the climate, even before they’re turned into fuels.