I went to an anti-Shell/arctic drilling gathering today; there are two scheduled in Portland this weekend, with additional actions in coming days to come, because one of Shell’s ice breakers will be in town soon to get some repairs. There is talk of a kayaktivist fleet, too. (If you are in the area, the one tomorrow starts at noon at City Hall.)
There were a few speakers.
First up was one of the men who took a lobster boat and blocked an coal ship off the coast of Massachusetts a few years ago (and now resides in Oregon). The criminal charges against them were eventually dropped by the DA, who agreed with their “necessity” defense . . . the DA had read an article by Bill McKibben the weekend before the trial was to take place, and agreed that taking action against climate change was important.
One of the things he said during the speech today was that afterwards, he found out more about the discussion that had taken place in the Coast Guard while the boat was anchored, and the CG was trying to decide what to charge them with. He had expected the CG was debating between “medium punishment” and “violations of the Patriot Act” level of severity, but it turned out the debate was between “medium” and “we should just leave them alone out there in the boat,” because there are people in the Coast Guard who care about climate change.
He made the point that if issues like climate change and oil extraction, the problems it causes, and will be causing, are raised publicly, it can give people in governmental organizations extra support to do the morally right thing, since sometimes they just want a little support/excuse to do so.
After, one of our Senators, Jeff Merkley, spoke. He just introduced a new bill in Congress to end drilling in the Arctic. No new leases. No renewals of existing leases.
Shell’s current leases expire in 2017.
Any support you can provide to help Merkley’s bill get passed (write your Congressional reps, pray for obstacles to its passage to be overcome, etc.) would be fantastic (to say nothing of other actions to stop Arctic drilling more generally).
Another speaker mentioned three oil spills that occurred in the last 48 hours and said, “If they drill it, they’ll spill it! Pass that on!” and I thought yes, that’s a good way to highlight the dangers . . . but in a more magical sense, wouldn’t it be better to switch that phrasing around just a bit and repeat, “No drilling; no spilling” since THAT is the outcome we want?
. . .
I made a prayer for assistance to one of the local Powers before I left for the event. And then there were a couple things that happened during the course of my visit that felt significant in some fashion, but as usual, I don’t know of what importance they were, or how this all functions, or will function/play out, etc., a lot of times it seems the best course is to just do what seems right and trust it works out.