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Greenpeace boat to follow, protest oil rigs in Alaska

Posted by Meghan Walker on June 27th, 2012

As we reported a few weeks ago, the Greenpeace boat Esperanza was lingering around North Lake Union and heading in and out of the Ballard Locks as it waited for Shell’s oil rigs to travel up the coast to Alaska. As part of the “Save the Arctic” movement, Esperanza  is heading north today to follow is monitoring two of Shell’s vessels, the Kulluk and the Noble Discoverer, as they head north in Alaska’s Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

Esperanza passing through the canal, photo credit Ron Lloyd

The Esperanza will travel along with activists and scientists aboard, documenting the process of drilling in the Arctic. They’ll observe every part of the process at the Chukchi drill site, using an observational drone and inflatable rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs).

In a press release, Greenpeace Senior Oceans Campaigner Jackie Dragon said, “Shell has spent $4 billion buying its way into the Arctic, but now a global movement is mobilizing to protect this region for good.While America suffers the impacts of global warming from Florida to Texas, Shell wants to exploit melting sea ice in the Arctic to drill for more fossil fuels. We’re on our way up to Alaska’s pristine waters with hundreds of thousands of others to draw a line in the ice and say ‘no further’. This is now one of the defining environmental battles of our age.”

According to our news partners, The Seattle Times, a preliminary injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason requires requires Greenpeace to stay at least a kilometer (about 3,280 feet) away from Shell’s two Arctic drilling rigs, and half that from accompanying Shell support vessels.

Shell Spokesman Curtis Smith, in response to the efforts from Greenpeace, told KPLU , “If we couldn’t do this safely and responsibly, we wouldn’t consider doing it.” He says their drilling rigs have been retrofitted to have the “smallest possible impact on the environment, for example, by making sure they capture the mud and cuttings from drilling, so the waste is not discharged in the path of migrating whales.”

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