Mayor blocks lease, says Port of Seattle must get new permits to host Shell Oil

Steve Wilhelm, May 4, 2015, Puget Sound Business Journal

The Port of Seattle will have to apply for new permits in order for Shell Oil to use Terminal 5 to stage oil rigs.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray made the announcement to a roar of applause at the Climate Solutions annual breakfast Monday morning.

“We need not continue with the past. It’s time to turn the page. Things like oil trains, coal trains and oil drilling rigs are the past,” he said. “If it was up to me, there would be no place for Arctic offshore oil drilling equipment in Seattle.”

The Port of Seattle has proposed that Shell Oil (NYSE: RDS.A) be able to utilize Terminal 5, one of the port’s largest container terminals, to store and prepare oil rigs before they head north to drill in the Arctic.

The port has hoped to use the lease to generate other revenue and jobs for Terminal 5 while it expands the terminal to handle the cranes to service larger cargo ships.

The environmental community has resisted the move to allow Shell to use the terminal during the interim. There have been protests around the city, and a group of kayakers plans to try to block the upcoming arrival of the first Shell Oil rig.

On Monday, Murray said the Seattle Department of Planning and Development has concluded that storing oil rigs is not included in the 20-year-old permit for Terminal 5.

“DPP has determined, that the port’s proposed use is not a cargo terminal, and thus the port must apply for a new permit,” Murray said.

He added that he hopes the decision will stop the project entirely.

“While acquiring a new permit may not stop port’s plans, it does give an opportunity to pause and rethink this issue,” he said. “This is an opportunity for the port to make a bold statement about how oil companies impact climate change, and an opportunity to stop this long-term lease.”

Climate Solutions is a Seattle-based clean energy nonprofit focused on collaborating with business and government leaders over issues of climate change. Several hundred people attended the breakfast at the Grand Ballroom of the Westin Hotel.

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