Share story

Rather than allow a legal proceeding to unfold on a shoreline-permitting decision for the Port of Seattle’s lease for a home port for Shell’s Arctic drilling rig, The Times’ editorial “City used tortured logic for Shell’s oil-rig lease” [Opinion, Aug. 16] invites the public “to decide” — based solely on the arguments of one side.

The editorial parrots the briefs of Foss Maritime and the Port and seeks to supplant the legal process before witnesses or arguments are heard from the other side. This is an arrogant disservice to established due process. The Times interviewed and quotes the Port staff without mention of contacting the other side, and ignores the staff members’ bias as they defend their decision to enter a contract with Shell behind closed doors.

The city decided that the Port needed to obtain a new shoreline permit before allowing Terminal 5 to become the home port for Shell’s drilling rig. Servicing a drilling rig is significantly different from loading and offloading cargo, often requiring extensive repairs after enduring Arctic conditions. For instance, last December, Shell pleaded guilty to felony offenses when one of its drill rigs leaked oily water in transit and in port.

The Port elected to litigate the city’s shoreline-permit decision. The case is now mid-hearing before the neutral hearing examiner — akin to a full-fledged trial with briefs and witnesses from both sides. Our legal system entrusts this decision to a neutral party based on this process. Let it unfold without interference.

Kate Pflaumer, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance board president and U.S. attorney, Western District of Washington, 1993-2001