40 Hour Standoff Ends in Call to Obama to Cancel Shell’s Arctic Drilling Plans

By Stefanie Spear, EcoWatch – After a 40-hour blockade stopping Shell’s Fennica icebreaker from leaving port, 26 Greenpeace USA activists have come down from the St John’s Bridge in Portland, Oregon, including the 13 climbers that repelled from the bridge. Shell’s vessel did finally make its way on Thursday under the Portland bridge and out to sea as the demonstrators were preparing to leave the bridge. A federal judge in Alaska yesterday ordered Greenpeace USA to remove the climbers or face a series of escalating fines, starting at US$2,500 per hour and reaching as high as US$10,000 per hour after a number of days. “We are incredibly proud of these climbers and truly humbled by what they have achieved here in Portland,” Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard said. “The last two days have been a very emotional experience for all of us at Greenpeace, as well as all those who supported this action around...

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13 Climbers Suspended From Bridge Block Shell Oil Vessel From Heading to Arctic

By Stefanie Spear, EcoWatch – Thirteen Greenpeace activists have suspended themselves from St. Johns Bridge in Portland, Oregon Wednesday morning to block a Shell Oil vessel — the MSV Fennica — from leaving port for Alaskan waters. The climbers have enough supplies to last several days, and are prepared to stay in Shell’s way as long as possible, according to Greenpeace. Last week, the Obama administration granted federal permits that clear the way for the oil company to begin drilling in the Arctic Ocean. The company is only permitted to drill the top sections of its wells because it lacks the equipment to cap the wells in case of emergency. The ice breaker carrying the required capping stack for the wells, had been receiving repairs to its damaged hull in Portland and is now trying to leave the port. Once the Fennica is at Shell’s drill site, Shell can reapply for federal approval to drill...

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As Shell Drilling Rig Aims for Arctic, Waves of Kayaks Block the Way

By Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams – Update 3:40 PM EDT As rolling blockades of kayakers confronted the Shell rig as it navigated up the Puget Sound, there were indications early Monday afternoon that the Polar Pioneer may have been grounded in shallow water off the coast of Bainbridge Island. However, after a more than three hour delay, the rig is now on the move and activists say kayakers up the channel are prepared for more resistance. Meanwhile, praise for the bravery of the ‘kayaktivists’ has come from all corners. “Today, the Puget Sound is the scene of some serious climate heroics,” tweeted David Turnbull, campaigns director at Oil Change International. And 350.org founder Bill McKibben wrote: “Favorite new word of 2015 is ‘kayaktivist‘ and this a.m. they‘re giving Shell fits in Seattle’s harbor.” Updates on the rig can be found on Twitter under the hashtag #SHellNo. Earlier In canoes and...

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‘It is Our Duty’: Grannies Arrested for Protecting Arctic from Oil Drillers

By Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams – A fearless band of grannies faced down police officers and semi-trucks early Tuesday as they led a direct action blockading the entrances to the Seattle Port terminal where the Shell Oil’s Polar Pioneer drilling rig is moored. Continuing the fierce local fight at the home berth of the Arctic drilling fleet, activists used their bodies, chains, and cement-filled barrels to halt operations at the Seattle port. According to reports, six members of the “Raging Grannies,” a group of Seattle grandmothers, were arrested as they led five successful blockades around Terminal 5. “My generation is responsible for how things are today. This rig will destroy any hope of a liveable future for our children and grandchildren,” said Seattle granny Annette Klapstein. “It’s our duty to be out here.” Organized under the rally cry of “sHell No!,” the blockade follows five days of pickets at the...

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Largest Public University Yet Dumps Coal

“That we (University of Washington) decided to divest from coal companies today reflects the seriousness of the climate change problem” By Nadia Prupis, Common Dreams – The University of Washington (UW) will divest roughly $2 million of its endowment from coal companies, citing “the seriousness of the climate change problem,” after a vote by the school’s board of regents Thursday night. “Our action today is the latest element of the University’s long-term commitment to improving the environment through world-class research and state-of-the-art sustainability practices,” board chair Bill Ayer said in a statement. “The Regents take very seriously their responsibility for managing the University’s investment portfolio… It has made divestment decisions only a few times on matters it felt represented important values. That we decided to divest from coal companies today reflects the seriousness of the climate change problem,” he added. The decision comes after nearly three years of campaigning by student...

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‘Climate Denial, Plain and Simple’: Feds Approve Shell’s Arctic Drilling Plan

By Nadia Prupis, Common Dreams – The Obama administration has given conditional approval to Shell to start drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic this summer, dealing a major blow to environmentalists who have sought to protect the vulnerable Beaufort and Chuchki Seas from fossil fuel exploration. “Arctic drilling is climate denial, plain and simple,” Jamie Henn, co-founder of climate activist organization 350.org, tweeted after the announcement. “Shameful decision by to allow Shell to drill.” Abigail Ross Hopper, director of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, said in a statement on Monday, “As we move forward, any offshore exploratory activities will continue to be subject to rigorous safety standards.” However, environmental activists have long warned that there is no way to fully protect against the dangers of offshore drilling, particularly in areas that are hard to reach by emergency vessels. Not only does fossil fuel...

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Opposition Grows as Shell Drilling Fleet Heads to Arctic Waters

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management says “there is a 75% chance of one or more large spills” occurring By Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams – Marking 26 years since the Exxon Valdez ran aground spilling as much as 38 million gallons of oil into the Port William Sound in Alaska, activists last week protested the Obama administration’s continued support for Arctic oil exploration. Despite the known threat to the fragile Arctic ecosystem and high risk of a devastating oil spill, the Department of the Interior is expected as early as Wednesday to sign off on the revised environmental impact statement (EIS) for Shell’s Chuckchi Sea lease, which would clear a major hurdle for the company to restart its Arctic drilling program this summer. Interior Secretary Sally Jewel’s formal announcement will follow last month’s approval by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), which was given despite the agency’s own EIS finding that “there...

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Striking CA Oil Refinery Workers Demand Better Safety, Wages

Laborers at the Tesoro plant outside LA are among the 3,800 who began national walkout four days ago By Haya El Nasser, Al Jazeera- CARSON, Calif. — Smoke is billowing from the mammoth Tesoro oil refinery, but none of the plant’s 800 union workers are on the job. They’re outside, picketing at each of the eight gates to the refinery. Truckers and motorists honk their horns in support as they whiz by on 223rd Street in this industrial city south of Los Angeles, home of a soccer stadium used by the Los Angeles Galaxy. It is now the first week of a strike by 3,800 oil refinery workers at nine plants in California, Texas, Kentucky and Washington state, which represent 10 percent of U.S. refining capacity. The strike could expand to other sites. “We have some very high-skilled workers forced out on an unfair labor practice strike,” said Pat Patterson, 60, a pipefitter and...

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