When the Port of Seattle last week revealed it was in negotiations with Foss Maritime to use the now vacant Terminal 5 as a home port for Shell Oil’s arctic drilling fleet, the environmental community was not thrilled.
“The last thing a sustainable city like Seattle should do is lock into a long-term contract with Shell’s Arctic destroyers,” Greenpeace Executive Director and Seattle native Annie Leonard said in a statement. “By allowing Shell’s proposal to anchor its Arctic fleet in Terminal 5, the Port of Seattle is blatantly contradicting their ‘Where a Sustainable World is Headed’ motto.”
The Port of Seattle Commission on Tuesday heard a briefing on Foss’ proposal as well as public comment. However, because the commissioners delegated the task of finding an interim use for Terminal 5 to Port staff, a vote by the commissioners was not necessary.
During the meeting, when it was clear the public had a lot to say on the matter, Commissioner Tom Albro proposed a motion to require a commission vote before deciding on a use for the empty terminal.
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While all five commissioners explained they are against drilling in the arctic and reiterated their conservationist and environment-conscious backgrounds, Albro’s motion was not seconded and the proposed contract will move forward.
“Rejecting this lease is not going to affect arctic exploration,” commissioner Bill Bryant said during the meeting. “ Rejecting this lease is not going to protect our environment, but it will cost us over 200 jobs and many hundred more jobs in related businesses.”
This deal is expected to bring the Port up to $28 million in revenue, which Seaport managing director Linda Styrk said will help the Port make the terminal big-ship ready as well as pay for the costs of caretaking the empty terminal.