Activists Create A Human Shield To Block Shell’s Arctic Drilling Rig

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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Greenpeace activists are known for their over-hyped shenanigans to stop oil and gas drilling, but this new stunt by environmentalists brings their activism to new heights — literally.

Activists have suspended themselves from the St. John’s bridge in Portland, Ore. to block Royal Dutch Shell’s oil rig from leaving port to commence exploring for oil and natural gas in the Arctic Ocean.

Protesters were able to claim an early victory after Shell’s oil rig, the MSV Fennica, was forced to turn around and head down river. A mix of people suspended from the bridge and kayakers reportedly blocked the rig’s path to the Columbia River — the route to the Pacific Ocean.

“With these people hanging here it was too dangerous for the authorities to move through,” Maya Jarrad, a spokeswoman for 350PDX and Portland Rising Tide, told The Oregonian. “The kayakers are also impeding the ship’s progress.”

This protest comes after environmental activists in Seattle paddled around the rig in kayaks (many ironically made with petroleum products) in a rally against Arctic drilling. Environmentalists were furious with the Obama administration for approving Shell’s plan to explore for oil and gas in the region. Activists say such activities will harm wildlife, cause oil spills and make global warming worse.

Despite the protests, the Obama administration last week gave Shell the final approval it needed to begin drilling. Shell can’t formally begin exploring for oil until it gets certain safety equipment installed and repairs a gash recently discovered on the side of its rig.

Alaska’s Outer Continental Shelf is estimated to hold about 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.  Department of Energy advisers have said accessing these reserves would help secure U.S. energy supplies and keep oil prices lower.

“With an estimated 25 percent of the world’s undiscovered conventional oil and gas resources and active exploration by countries like Russia, it’s critical that the United States set the standard for responsible development in the Arctic,” Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski said in a statement. “America will only truly assume that role when it actively engages in developing its resources.”

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