Activists say ShellNo! as oil rig departs for Arctic

Illustration of kayaktivists

Today, Shell Oil’s drilling rig — the Polar Pioneer — left port to drill in the Arctic.

Shell received government permission to drill in the Arctic this summer despite its history of failures and safety violations, the Obama Administration’s own study showing that there’s a 75 percent chance of a major Arctic spill within this century if we drill in the Chukchi Sea, and the devastating consequences Arctic drilling would have on our climate. It’s outrageous.

But this bleak news is fueling something powerful. While governments refuse to rein in big oil companies, ordinary people are stepping up. And a movement is growing between communities and across borders.

Here’s a snapshot of just the last 72 hours:

#ShellNO!

Shell’s first oil rig left the Port of Seattle for the Arctic this morning, but its departure didn’t go as planned. As the rig began to move, thirteen Greenpeace US activists formed a human blockade between it and the Arctic — holding it there for hours.

blockade of activists in front of Shell's Polar Pioneer rig

And that was just the beginning. More kayaktivists joined the protests on the water nearby: families, the Raging Grannies, former corporate executives, even people who came all the way from Alaska. All united in the same goal: to stop Shell from drilling in the Arctic. 

Even now — as Shell’s rig moves towards the Pacific Ocean — it is met by protest after protest. And it certainly shouldn’t expect to be welcomed with open arms once it crosses out of U.S. waters.

Toast the Coast

Across the border from the kayaktivists, 5,000 people came together at Toast the Coast in Vancouver, CA last Saturday to celebrate their coastline and to reject Arctic oil drilling. Indigenous peoples, environmental activists, artists, and even celebrities Jane Fonda and Rachel McAdams joined firmly in opposition to Shell’s plans.

Greenpeace's Toast the Coast Picnic/Protest - June 13th 2015  © Joseph Strohan / Greenpeace

Jane Fonda spoke to the crowd about her motivation for doing something to stop Arctic drilling: “I want my grandchildren to look back and say ‘Grandma was on the right side of history.’”

People VS Oil - Toast the Coast Event © Jason Van Brugger / Greenpeace

Then she added, “If I get arrested [protesting Shell] it will bring even more attention to the issue — I hope I get arrested.”

It sounds like Shell can’t count on an uneventful trip through Canada’s waters, either.

What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic

These last three days show that Shell’s vision of the future — where Arctic drilling is an inevitability — is not something people are willing to accept.

In Canada, the United States, and around the world over 7 million people believe in a better future and are ready to fight Arctic drilling. Whether it is by scaling an Arctic rig as Greenpeace volunteers did earlier this year, hopping in a kayak, or sending a letter to President Obama, people are joining together and stepping up for what they believe.

If Shell wants to drill in the Arctic this summer, it is in for one hell of a fight.

 Take action now to join the growing movement to save the Arctic!

 

Dawn Bickett is a Content Editor for the Americas at Greenpeace.

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