Last month, a King County Superior Court Judge ruled that the Port of Seattle did not need to conduct an environmental review before granting permission for Shell Oil’s Arctic drilling fleet to use Terminal 5 at the Port of Seattle as home port. The judge’s ruling did not convince a coalition of extreme “green” groups that appealed the decision on Thursday. The Seattle Times,
“The coalition made up of Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, the Sierra Club, Washington Environmental Council and Seattle Audubon Society, represented by Earthjustice lawyer Patti Goldman, argue that an environmental review under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) was necessary because mooring Shell’s oil rigs at Terminal 5 changed the use of the terminal. The Port says Terminal 5 was exempt because that was essentially the same as its previous use as a cargo terminal.”
The environmental coalition originally sued the Port in March after Foss Maritime leased Terminal 5 to Shell’s rig. According to the Seattle Times, Foss began plans to use Terminal 5 as a homeport for Shell’s oil rigs in January. In February, Port CEO Ted Fick “signed the two-year lease with Foss.” The lease is expected to “create hundreds of jobs and keep revenue flowing in as the terminal is upgraded to accommodate bigger container ships.”
Though the extreme “green” coalition found it difficult to convince a King County Superior Court Judge on its purely ideological grounds, it has found favor with Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development—on behalf of Murray—decided (using “tortured and novel legal analysis”) that Foss required a new land-use permit to provide overwintering at Terminal 5 for some of Shell Oil’s Arctic drilling fleet.
Foss and the Port of Seattle appealed the Department of Planning and Development’s decision. The appeal is currently under review by a hearing examiner.