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"Shell’s actions are exploiting the melting ice to increase a man-made disaster," stated Greenpeace campaigner Johno Smith.  (Photo:  Matteo Della Torre/flickr/cc)

Shell Files Suit to Stop Campaigners Protesting 'Environmentally Ruinous Conduct'

'Shell wants activists off its rig. We want Shell out of the Arctic.'—Annie Leonard, Greenpeace USA

Andrea Germanos

Royal Dutch Shell filed a complaint in a federal court in Alaska on Tuesday to stop a team of Greenpeace activists who've boarded a drilling vessel they say threatens to wreak havoc in the Arctic.

Six campaigners with the environmental organization boarded the drilling rig, which is being hauled by a separate vessel, on Monday approximately 750 miles northwest of Hawaii. The rig, the Polar Pioneer, is slated for drilling operations in the Chukchi Sea this summer.

Shell's lawsuit states: "Greenpeace has a demonstrated pattern of conducting direct actions against Arctic oil and gas operations that violate the rights of others and create dangerous situations for their targets, law enforcement, and their own members."

But Johno Smith from New Zealand, one of the international activists occupying the rig, said it is Shell causing danger, stating that the group was taking the action "to highlight that in less than 100 days Shell is going to the Arctic to drill for oil. This pristine environment needs protecting for future generations and all life that will call it home. But instead Shell’s actions are exploiting the melting ice to increase a man-made disaster."

Annie Leonard, Greenpeace USA executive director, issued a statement on Tuesday describing the injunction as the oil company's "latest attempt to keep people from standing up for the Arctic."

The company's previous drilling mishaps show "Shell can"t be trusted to drill in the Arctic," she said.

"Greenpeace USA has the right to peacefully protest Shell’s attempts to destroy the Arctic and let the public know about them," Leonard added. "We plan on watching over Shell’s activity all the way up to the Chukchi Sea, where Shell’s track record is already objectively reprehensible."

Though Shell characterized the Greenpeace action as "far from peaceful demonstrations," Leonard countered that "Greenpeace USA endeavors only to watch over Shell's actions and protest its environmentally ruinous conduct."

“Shell wants activists off its rig. We want Shell out of the Arctic," she stated.

MSNBC's Chris Hayes spoke with one activist aboard the vessel, Aliyah Field, who said the campaigners are "committed to being here until Shell hears the message loud and clear that people do not want drilling in the Arctic this summer."

Follow the vessel occupation on Twitter with the hashtag #TheCrossing:

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