As It Happened: Seattle Kayaktivists Blockade Shell’s Alaska-Bound Oil Rig

by Ryan Schleeter

June 15, 2015

Early on the morning of June 15, 2015, kayaktivists confronted Shell's Polar Pioneer drilling rig as it attempted to leave Seattle for Arctic waters.

Environmental activists in a tribal canoe blockade Shell's Drilling Rig Polar Pioneer delaying its departure from Seattle's Elliott Bay bound for the Arctic on June 15, 2015. The Polar Pioneer is one of two drilling vessels heading towards the Arctic for Shell this year. The second, the Noble Discoverer, is one of the oldest drill ships in the world. Photo by Greenpeace

©Marcus Donner/Greenpeace

Editor’s note: Updated 5:34am PST June 16, 2015

Early on the morning of June 15, 2015, kayaktivists confronted Shell’s Polar Pioneer drilling rig as it attempted to leave Seattle for Arctic waters.

Activists were taken into custody by the U.S. Coast Guard trying to stop it. Their plan was to stay out on the water as long as possible—and that’s exactly what they did.

While Shell has left for the Arctic—and could begin drilling in roughly two weeks—this fight is nowhere near over. People power has made Arctic drilling a front page news story across the world, and Shell’s public image is crumbling by the day. It’s a story that can only build if we keep pushing it.

Keep this incredible momentum going by making a donation and taking action today. 


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Why did we do this, you ask?

Shell wants to start drilling for oil in the Arctic this year. This, despite the fact that leading scientists have said that Arctic oil must be kept in the ground if we want to avoid the worst of catastrophic climate change.

This is not Shell’s first attempt to drill in the Arctic: the company tried before in 2012. But a series of shocking accidents and mishaps with its drilling equipment led to a lawsuit, federal fines, and even felony charges. Instead of realizing that Arctic drilling is just too risky, Shell wants to try again this summer.

In the past few months, our movement has made Arctic drilling a front page news story. In April, six brave activists boarded the Polar Pioneer as it was on its way to Seattle to shine a light on Shell’s dirty plans. Just a couple of weeks ago, thousands of people joined a mass flotilla in the port of Seattle to continue to draw attention to Shell’s plans.

The momentum is on our side. Let’s keep it going.

Raise your voice. Say no to Arctic drilling today.

Ryan Schleeter

By Ryan Schleeter

Ryan Schleeter is a senior communications specialist with Greenpeace USA covering climate and energy. His writing has appeared in National Geographic, Grist, GreenBiz, EcoWatch, and more. Find him on Twitter @ryschlee.

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