When you think of Seattle, you probably think of Nirvana, the whole 90s grunge scene, or that rom-com with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan (no, not You’ve Got Mail, the other one).
What probably doesn’t spring immediately to mind, is 200 people in kayaks and canoes taking on the might and muscle of a global oil company. Events over the weekend, however, might just change your preconceived notions of the city.
On Saturday afternoon, approximately 200 activists took to their kayaks and surrounded an Arctic-bound Royal Dutch Shell oil rig that was making a layover in the Port of Seattle.
Shell was boosted last week when the US Energy Department gave it a provisional go-ahead to begin exploratory drilling off the north coast of Alaska. This green-light from the government has angered many in the country, and resulted in protests like the one seen over the weekend.
— Sydney Brownstone (@sydbrownstone) May 16, 2015
Shell, who are hoping to use Seattle as a base for their operations, must still gain several more federal and state permits before they can put their plans into action. The wrath of the environment lobby, and the “Kayaktavists” as they are now known, has shed unwanted attention onto the energy giant and it will be interesting to see where they go from here.
Campaigners have vowed to fight Shell’s plans on land and at sea. Protests are expected to continue, and possibly escalate, as neither side seems willing to back down. Those against the company’s controversial plans have warned news media outlets of an impending “ecological catastrophe,” should Shell get what they want.
Shell, as a business, are no strangers to environmental disasters. In 2011, 40,000 barrels of their oil was spilled 75 miles off the coast of the Niger delta. Controversies such as this, and fears over a repeat incident near Alaska, are two of the main factors fuelling the protesters’ anger.