Two-year lease to Foss Maritime to use Terminal 5 at the Port of Seattle as a base for Shell Oil’s arctic drilling fleet brings out environmentalist opposition.
Port of Seattle commissioners again took a lot of heat for their recent decision to sign a lease with Foss Maritime, which will use a portion of the empty Terminal 5 for a mooring station for Shell Oil’s Arctic drilling fleet.
During the commission meeting Tuesday, more than 65 people spoke against the two-year lease, while about 10 spoke in support.
Opponents carried signs and banners, some brought instruments and sang, but the message was the same. They asked commissioners to rescind the lease to be true to the Port’s mission to be green and sustainable, and to make a stand against climate change.
Retired state Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson encouraged the Port to stop acting like it is business as usual and “refuse to push (Seattle) through catastrophic climate change.”
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Meanwhile, representatives for the maritime industry spoke in support of Foss’ lease, emphasizing it will create jobs and keep a marine terminal from sitting stagnant.
“The lease is already creating family wage jobs providing workers with paychecks,” said John Lockwood of shipbuilder Vigor Industrial, which is working on a project fabricating equipment for Terminal 5 that will be used to moor vessels alongside the terminal.
“The Port of Seattle’s lease to Foss will create hundreds of new maritime jobs,” he said.
Port CEO Theodore Fick on Feb. 9 signed the agreement with Foss, which will pay $13.17 million over two years to use 50 acres of the 156-acre Terminal 5.
After three meetings with so much public opposition, a lawsuit and the initiation of an investigation by the city of Seattle, Port Commissioner Tom Albro on Tuesday said he does not see a way to rescind the lease with Foss.
After the public-comment period, Albro read a motion that will give the commissioners the authority to decide whether or not to extend the Foss lease beyond the initial two years.
While it is common for the commission to delegate authority to the Port staff, the motion as written would give the commission authority over future leases “of significant public interest.”
It would also include a minimum 30-day public-comment period.
“This issue belongs in the public sphere,” Albro said after the meeting.
The motion, cowritten with Commissioner Courtney Gregoire, will be on the agenda of a future commission meeting.
Tuesday’s meeting came only one day after Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and the City Council announced the city might have the power to delay or block the lease.
The Seattle Department of Planning and Development will “review, investigate and determine” whether the plan is allowed under the Port’s Shoreline Substantial Development Permit for Terminal 5, Murray and the council said Monday.