SEATTLE (AP) — An oil rig outfitted for exploration in the remote Arctic Ocean parked in Seattle's harbor Thursday, marking a pivotal moment for an environmental movement increasingly mobilized around climate change.
Activists paddling out in kayaks to meet the rig off Seattle's picturesque waterfront said it's their moment to stand against opening a new frontier of fossil fuel exploration.
"Unless people get out there and put themselves on the front lines and say enough is enough, then nothing will ever change," said Jordan Van Voast, 55, an acupuncturist who was going out on the water to confront the Polar Pioneer. "I'm hopeful that people are waking up."
About two dozen kayakers paddled around Elliott Bay as the towering rig passed the city's Space Needle. The tiny boats, which kept their distance from the rig, were dwarfed by the 400-foot-long structure rising nearly 300 feet above the water.
The image suggests how outmatched Shell's opponents have been as they try to keep the petroleum giant from continuing its $6 billion effort to open new oil and gas reserves in one of the world's most dangerous maritime environments.
Environmental groups in the Pacific Northwest are sensing a shift in the politics that surround energy production and have mobilized against a series of projects that would transform the region into a gateway for crude oil and coal exports to Asia.