‘Kayaktivists’ plan national protest against Shell drilling in Arctic

San Francisco: The so-called “kayaktivist” movement, which has recently been focused on Shell’s planned Arctic oil drilling and has staged its major actions at the Shell fleet’s Seattle staging post, is bringing its message national including to Washington DC.

A “Shell No” day, echoing a theme of one of the biggest Seattle protests against the Polar Pioneer rig, will be staged on Saturday (July 18).

The nationally organised day will include events in 13 states plus the national capital where they will stage an Arctic marine scene in Lafayette Park – complete with kayaks and inflatable boats – to protest Shell and other companies drilling in the Arctic Ocean. Lafayette Park is just north of the White House.

The kayaktivists, who got their name from forming symbolic blockades of kayaks against Shell fleet vessels in Seattle waters, comprise members from various environmental organisations.

Shell’s imminent return to Arctic drilling after a three-year lull has focused the green groups’ energies because they fear an ecological calamity there. But they are also concerned about the broader pattern of offshore drilling, particularly moves to expand such activities in the Atlantic.

On Tuesday environmentalists sent a letter to the Interior Department, which has the power to grant the final two authorisations Shell needs for its Arctic campaign. The letter asked that permission be denied while a damaged icebreaker is under repair. The icebreaker, the Fennica, is the only vessel in Shell’s fleet carrying a key piece of emergency equipment called a capping stack, which can be used to contain a blown-out well.

If permission is granted then it is a matter of weeks before drilling begins in the Chukchi Sea, northwest of Alaska.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.
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