Opposition to Arctic Oil Drilling Provokes Civil Disobedience Actions Targeting Shell Icebreaker in Portland

Posted Aug. 5, 2015

MP3 Interview with Daphne Wysham, director of the Climate and Energy Program at the Center for Sustainable Economy, conducted by Scott Harris


When a Royal Dutch Shell company oil rig attempted to leave the port of Seattle for an oil drilling project in the Arctic in mid-June, hundreds of climate activists in kayaks and small boats attempted to block the giant drilling platform's path. After the Coast Guard intervened, Shell's Polar Pioneer oil rig was able to depart for Arctic waters. Fast forward to late July, when hundreds of so-called "kayaktavists" in Portland, Oregon, employed similar tactics in order to block Shell's icebreaker Fennica, carrying an essential containment device, from departing to join the oil company's Arctic drilling fleet in the Chukchi Sea off the coast of Alaska.

On the St. John's bridge, which spans Portland's Willamette River, more than a dozen Greenpeace activists rappelled over the side and suspended themselves with ropes over the water in an attempt to prevent the icebreaker from leaving Portland harbor for its trip north to the Arctic. Despite the climbers' 40-hour effort, the ship eventually was able to leave Portland after police dislodged the Greenpeace activists on the bridge.

Environmentalists strongly oppose drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic, warning of the severe damage to the fragile ecosystem that would be caused by oil spills and the extraction of more fossil fuel that will further exacerbate climate change. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Daphne Wysham, director of the Climate and Energy Program at the Center for Sustainable Economy. Here, she discusses the campaign to stop oil drilling in the Arctic and the recent civil disobedience actions in Portland.

For more information, visit the Center for Sustainable Economy at sustainable-economy.org and 350pdx.org.

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